Monday, 9 March 2015

Review: Malka - The Constant State (self released)

So apparently there’s a shoegaze revival. It shouldn't really surprise me… I first featured Dead Leaf Echo on YtN&tM well over a year ago, and the Canadian/Ukraine partnership of Ummagma have been regulars on the show for about six months. My Bloody Valentine released a new album back in 2013, their first since the 1991 masterpiece Loveless, and even Slowdive are back together.

About a month ago, Shauna from Ummagma (and soon to be contributing to this humble blog), introduced me to the digital compilation Revolution on Ear to Ear / Gerpfast Kolektif which has supplied me with a steady stream of tracks for the past few weeks too.

Which brings me to Malka: A New York band who proudly place themselves within the Shoegaze oeuvre. The quartet have been together for less than two years, but their debut EP has the sound of a seasoned band totally in sync with each other.

More a mini album than EP, the first of the seven tracks is A Flock of Crows… featuring jangly guitars, a soaring lead line and honey-sweet harmonised vocals. It’s a statement of intent, and only a precursor to a strong set of songs... I can only imagine how good it must sound live.

The second track (For Now We Live) is a slow burner… more dream pop than shoegaze, and wouldn’t sound out of place on a mid-nineties 4AD release. In fact, I would say of all the bands from this era, Malka remind me more of the brilliant Pale Saints. The addition of electronics and other instrumentation (i.e. not relying only on drums/bass/reverb drenched guitars) give the band an edge over some of their peers, and makes for an engaging listen.

Track three (Mientras Se Respira) introduces an new dimension… Spanish lyrics, undoubtedly provided by Darco Saric, a Croatian, raised in Peru, and responsible for one of the two guitars in the band along with synth and shared vocal duties.

Which brings me to (for me, at least) the heart of the EP. Wolves and Sheep has an ethereal quality, a constant electronic pulse and a vocal from the dark midnight streets of New York. The track has a strange quality of sounding both noir and uplifting at the same time, and when the guitar solo kicks in... well, it’s a joyous occasion for sure.

The record (look, I know it’s not an ACTUAL record, but it should be!) carries on for three more tracks, each with unique sound and epic scope, including one more in Spanish (Corazon Sin Sangre), and finishing with the aptly titled Swoon, another upbeat track.

So yeah… Malka probably DO fit within the resurgence of that 90’s sound, but to dismiss the band as mere revivalists would be a mistake, and does them a disservice. This is an original band with some new and inspirational ideas, and I look forward to hearing much more from them in the near future.

Mat Handley, Doncaster, England.

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