Just as Maven Grace are a world-spanning electronic collective, their music is a genre-spanning canvas. Being based in cities as distant as Hong Kong, Connemara, London and Rome, Maven Grace’s debut EP INTRO has a nomadic identity. The EP was born after a short tour in China, which saw the band playing alongside Beijing’s underground music scene kingpins, where they were incredibly well-received.
‘Darkness’, the wistful opener to INTRO is a curious mergence of Oriental and European influences. The thrill of a Chinese lute fades in and out of livewire electric guitars, shining electronic keys and vocals fit for a ballad. It’s impossible to know what this is, or where you stand with it; its ability to shift and change is where the track’s charm lies.
Maven Grace create a far more haunting sound on ‘Something Strange – West’. Their use of vocoders in the intro is a homage to the compressed techno of the early 00s, which then gives way to the same clear, crisp vocals we see on ‘Darkness’. This is an unconventional duet, with the same romanticism, but with an electronic glitter to it.
Sung partly in Mandarin and partly in English, ‘Innocent Dreams’ invites the listener to identify with their feelings of distance and division for a band who are so far apart from each other, yet can’t let go of their music. It’s bathed in gentle, morning sunlight, weighted with infectious basslines. The echoing, faraway vocals recall the soundscapes of Beach House.
Best known as lead keyboardist, producer, and composer of electronic duo Goldfrapp, Will Gregory has reworked ‘Darkness’, taking it in a whole new direction. Speaking about the remix he says, “I don’t often do remixes, but this track really appealed to me. The original sounds were very detailed and meticulous so I enjoyed being given the freedom to strip everything back and build something new.
The band were happy for me to take it wherever I wanted and all in all it was great to have such a free hand”. It jitters, hard to contain, like a firefly. The toying with pitch, and expansive use of strings, makes ‘Darkness’ all the more sumptuous. Far more than an attempt, Maven Grace’s EP is a triumph is experimentation