Maral - Ground Groove Music Album Reviews

Maral - Ground Groove Music Album Reviews
On her third album, the Los Angeles artist weaves samples of Iranian music into a rugged blend of dub and industrial.

Maral’s music doubles as a means of fantastic transport. Soldered together from elements of dub, industrial, and anarcho-punk, it reflects both 1970s Jamaica and 1980s London, but the Los Angeles musician’s work draws most of its spiritual sustenance from Iran. For a decade now, Maral has been assembling a library of samples of Iranian folk, classical, and pop music. Her source material has come from far and wide: specialty record stores in L.A.’s Persian Square; her parents’ cassette collections; and trips to the homeland itself. From her childhood until her early twenties, the Virginia native regularly visited Iran with her family, soaking up the language, culture, and music. In the early 2010s, DJing around L.A., she began layering those samples over blown-out beats inspired by moombahton and Jersey club. By her landmark 2018 mixtape Voices From the Land of Iran, her style had crystallized, and she continued to develop it across wide-ranging mixes and original productions. She likened her debut album, 2019’s Mahur Club, to the memory of a trip overseas: “I wanted the release to feel like you are in a taxi in Iran with the windows down and the taxi driver is playing an old cassette and the sounds from outside are mixing in to create a whole new song.”

If Maral’s previous albums were diesel beaters zigzagging through crowded city streets, Ground Groove is a high-powered all-terrain vehicle putting its suspension to the test. Her third album follows the hybrid template of its predecessors, but the beats are more rugged, the range more adventurous. Distortion has always played a key role in her music, but it has never sung in quite the way it does here. She wreathes electronic percussion in fuzz, sculpting overdriven 808 kicks into ominously throbbing bass ostinatos; she drenches guitars in the no-nonsense scuzz of bands like Crass, a longtime favorite. Her grooves are indebted to dub reggae, and she balances terse electronic beats with loose, muscular drumming on an acoustic kit that lends a live, jammy feel to her rhythms. There’s something fundamentally Californian about the blend; “That’s Okay, Ruin It” sounds like a garage band navigating dub and stoner metal in an empty swimming pool. 

It’s a short album, covering 11 tracks in just half an hour, and it doesn’t vary much in tone or mood: Most songs use the same sludgy bass and bone-dry drums. But the short track lengths work in the record’s favor. The songs are all clearly cut from the same cloth, yet they’re just different enough to catch the ear, one after the next. It’s not always obvious where one track ends and another begins, and some, like the twisting “Mari’s Groove,” blow through numerous contrasting passages in just two or three minutes. If the sullen atmospheres keep you locked into Ground Groove’s labyrinthine confines, then the sudden glimmers of light make you forget about looking for a way out.

The heart of Maral’s music remains the classical and folkloric Iranian samples that are woven throughout. They’ve never sounded as carefully integrated as they do here: While some of her previous productions were essentially edits—“Hayedeh,” from Push, grafted an extended sample of the iconic exiled singer over a loping beat—here it’s more difficult to tease out her sources. In “Heart Shimmer,” a snakelike tar melody is run through reverb and delay until it’s barely recognizable. In “Avaz-e-Del,” a doleful a cappella flits behind grinding trip-hop beats, like a mysterious creature glinting beneath the surface of a murky lake. The pitched-down lament running through “Behind the Rock & Into the Tunnel” could be a field recording of a regional folk song, but the way it’s been slowed and processed, it might as well be a transmission from the other side of the galaxy.

Rarely do these sounds assume center stage; instead, they lurk in the background, where the keening intonation and microtonal melodies add color to the battered, blackened beats. They also add considerable emotional weight. Maral has spoken of the “ingrained melancholy” of Iranian identity and culture, a sensibility handed down from classical Persian music and poetry, and the same melancholy runs deep in Ground Groove. If Maral’s rough-hewn drums and guitars evoke the aggression of punk and industrial, her samples convey a profound heaviness; the halting drums and minor-key or quarter-tone intervals sound not just mournful but positively exhausted. You don’t need to understand the lyrics or even the background of Maral’s source material to grasp its spirit. Her choices are intuitive, not didactic; she has said that her sampling is typically inspired by encountering a particularly captivating snippet “and wanting to see what that sound can do in a different context.” A child of the diaspora as committed to her culture’s future as its past, Maral turns roots into branches.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Maral - Ground Groove Music Album Reviews Maral - Ground Groove Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on December 29, 2022 Rating: 5


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