(Make Me A) TRISTE© Mixtape Episode 99: Marlody

Marlody

Marlody is from Ashford, Kent. When she was a girl, Marlody was one of the higher-achieving classical pianists of her generation, winning competitions and destined for greatness.  She hated it, and threw it all away.  In the intervening years, putting more and more distance between herself and her classical origins, she listened to Yo La Tengo and Shellac and a hundred other things that took music to new, untutored extremes. Marlody’s first album I’m Not Sure At All takes anxiety, weakness, fear – and turns them into strength: powerful melodies, the sweetest harmonies you ever heard, and lyrics that insist on the possibility of hope, without losing sight of the possibility of despair. Dominated by her extraordinary keyboard playing, Marlody’s songs are illuminated – and sometimes made sinister – by occasional bursts of programmed percussion, submarine bass and distant, chiming digital bells. These are deep, darkly beautiful pop songs which are strangely uplifting: they offer up their truths so calmly and are so generously wrapped in harmonies that they feel like gifts. I’m Not Sure At All is out now on Skep Wax.

​Sung from the perspective of a young girl whose mother has died, “Summer” gives a disturbing, eerie picture of an adult world that’s losing its moorings.  The innocence of the child and the sweetness of the music pull us safely through, saving us from the worst of it, but Summer is a perfect example of Marlody’s ability to weave songs so disarming that, for a few minutes, we feel as innocent as the child in the song.  For a while, we don’t notice that summer is over. We don’t notice how dark it’s getting.

Her Mixtape:

Sam Bean and Jesca Hoop – Welcome to Feeling

Love Letter for Fire is for me is hygge in song form – the harmony between Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop is so comforting. This little track feels grounded and uplifting all at once.

Dam Mantle – Movement

Dam Mantle’s Movement is a bonus track from his 2010 Purple Arrow EP. Years ago he played bass in the post-rock influenced band we were in. He went off to Glasgow School of Art and took his music in an electronic direction. This song’s orchestral samples intertwined with clicks, beats and bass always spark something joyful in me.

Low – Hey

Mimi Parker’s passing in November ‘22 hit me with waves of sadness. I’ve loved Low for a long time, and their 2018 album Double Negative was like medicine to me as I went through a Bipolar crisis. I feel privileged to have watched Low perform their astonishing album Hey What at Hackney Church just a few months before Mimi’s death. To be bathed in those sweeping, all encompassing sounds and divine vocals is an unforgettable experience.

 

Gia Margaret – Apathy

In her sophomore album, Mia Gargaret, Gia uses synths and samples to paint a landscape that somehow generates a sense of healing. She lost her singing voice while touring her debut album, and apparently retreated into recording these tracks in which her talent for instrumental composition shines through. ‘Apathy’ may have been born of that sentiment, but it leaves me far from apathetic – more imbued with a sense of quiet optimism.

Perfume Genius – Wreath

For a song that seems to be about becoming bodiless, perhaps something close to becoming a ghost, (Mike Hadreas has struggled with an auto immune disease that affects his relationship with his own body), the music video is perhaps a contradiction – a celebration of the human form through dance. It fills me with emotion each time I watch these dancers in their uniqueness, embracing this beautiful song and expressing their own interpretations.

Bogdan Belyaev – Else If

I found this talented Ukrainian artist through Instagram. His recent releases are deeply melancholic and poetic piano pieces. He told me that his friend Halyna convinced him to release Else If after he was reunited with her following a period when he thought she was dead as her town, Mariupol, had been devastated and he lost connection with her. They are now together with other friends in a safer part of Ukraine. He had to leave his studio due to Russian occupation but after many months now has access to a piano again. I hope to hear more of his meditative compositions in the future.

The Japanese House – Follow My Girl

Amber Bain’s 2019 album, Good at Falling, contains the kind of gloom and glow that resonates with me. Uplifting melodies and layered rhythmic synths with multiple vocal harmonies. ‘I’ll follow my girl til I find myself a sense of direction’ is a line that I’ve put into practice in my own life and relationships – that sense of seeking security or guidance in someone close until you find your own way again.

Dark Rooms – I Get Overwhelmed 

I also get overwhelmed! This track by Dark Rooms/Daniel Hart was released on their album Distraction Sickness, but I discovered it through watching David Lowery’s film, A Ghost Story (for which Daniel Hart wrote the score). The song and the film intersect – with themes of lost love, existential loneliness and grief. The film still haunts me long after watching it and I feel it’s influenced me in my own songwriting.

Modest Mouse – Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine 

This song is so dynamic, I love the way the story evolves, builds and falls and rebuilds. I was sad to hear of the the untimely passing, due to cancer, of drummer Jeremiah Green (who, like me, had bipolar disorder). His energy, expression and intricate style bring something extraordinary to the band – I’ve been a fan of this album (The Lonesome Crowded West) in particular for many years.

I’m Not Sure At All is out now on Skep Wax. Look HERE for more information on Marlody.

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