We’ve seen this set up time and time again – the shunning of traditional instrumentation in pursuit of a musical landscape; one man under a grand alias, this one being Spread It Across The Sky. This approach has really come into vogue since Radiohead dropped ‘Kid A’ on us and changed the face of music forever. Musical expression was no longer confined to the traditions of guitar, drums and bass. Instead a world was open to sounds and technology creating a musical soundscape to convey emotion and artistic expression. Some would rightfully point out it had been done before but it never infiltrated the mainstream in such a definite way before.
So how does ‘Mau’ stand up in this arena? From the opening bars of The Scale Beam it’s clear we’re in for a feast of ambience and unvoiced musical introspection. Think Moby mashed together with Sigur Rós then you’re in the right area. The music here is undoubtedly pretty and well executed but the lack of vocals inevitably allows the track to deflate, along with the listener’s interest. The running time of just over four minutes doesn’t help matters. Flower fares better. The introduction of vocals ties the song together in a way that was absent in the album opener. It’s not a huge deviation from The Scale Beam but it’s a much more succinct and focused offering.
Sadly this slight momentum is never fully maintained which is a damning indictment of a four track EP. The next two songs pass by in a wave of indifference that is astonishing in its own right. The reality is that despite all its intentions to tug at the foundations of its audience emotions it all seems disingenuous. In the end you get the off-putting impression that ‘Mau’ is a platter of well executed studio trickery rather than an exercise of any real purpose. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the persistent alluding to a hidden depth that is never there.