You’ve been walking through the wasteland for days. Your mouth is dry, the constant sandstorms have turned your skin into a dried out, crackly piece of leather, and your eyes are constantly stinging. In the distance, the sound of metal rubbing on metal: the ruins of an old highway overpass swinging in the wind. Suddenly, your skin turns red and your Geiger counter’s beeps start accelerating, so you start running towards the old, decrepit train station on the other end of the plain, where you’re supposed to meet with other survivors to start your next journey. The year is 2052, you’ve survived a nuclear attack, and perhaps Maven CX’s music is playing. A perfect blend of industrial sounds and a careful, calculated touch makes their album Overburnt Afterburn an excellent listen. Maven Cx is a Vancouver duo comprised of Kevin Maeng and Steven Scherrelies. Overburnt Afterburn is the first release of label Dream Fader.
One thing which is very evident from the first listen is that these guys put a lot of attention, care, and detail into this work. From the intro “Escalator Propaganda” all the way through the album, each track has a unique vibe while still gelling very well into the concept and continuity. We travel through all kinds of futuristic and post-apocalyptic worlds. It really is like a journey through alternate futures, complete with the transitions through spaceports as in “Subject To Search” and “No Directions To Spacetown.” Movement and travelling are the intended theme, as evidenced by “Train Crash Zero,” “Door Song,” and in the very aerial “Overburnt Afterdrive.”
Those periods of movement are punctuated with ambient songs such as “Twilight Steel Mirage” and “This Is Tomorrow,” which provide contrast with their more contemplative and static mood. A fair bit of instrumental music is featured, and you’ll certainly recognize some minimally-processed piano as well as the distorted, heavy guitar on “Train Crash Zero.”
It’s a little bit difficult to play the comparison game with this release, but it (sort of?) reminded me of some of Caribou’s work. The ambient pieces were contemplative in a way that is reminiscent of Boards of Canada. It’s sometimes dangerous to suggest who an artist’s influences might be in electronic music, since sounds more than artists tend to be the bigger influences. I can pretty much guarantee that there is some kind of modular synth in Maven CX’s arsenal, as well as the usual suspects like the Roland TR-808, its sexy modern re-issue the TR-08, or something like the Minimoog. There’s lots of re-processed pure sine and square sound waves, out of which they manage to get some really interesting textures. I bet Maven CX would be a really good fit for Vancouver’s own series of live electronic music performances, Sequential Circus. By the way, if you are interested in the analog music world and haven’t seen the movie “I Dream Of Wires”, what are you waiting for?
Written by Norm Boivin
*edited by Kate Erickson