Oslo’s Mayflower Madame introduce themselves by declaring themselves as a post-punk/psychedelic band who have already gained recognition both in their homeland and abroad. “For example,” they say, “we have played support gigs for Night Beats (US) and Crystal Stilts (US), and we also conquered the Underwood Stage (a showcase for the 8 ‘most promising’ bands in Norway) at this year’s edition of Norwegian Wood Festival (headlined by Nick Cave and My Bloody Valentine).” They’re proper Spacerock Reviews material, really, a blend of intriguing dark textures, relentless rhythms and lyrics twisted around what in other ways are really quite melodic tunes – based on what I’m hearing in their debut EP, released in August 2013 and available both as a download and, I’m always pleased to report, on 180g vinyl. I love the immediacy of digital, but it’s always good to see bands still having reverence for the permanency of the physical format, especially vinyl.
They are “a four-piece band – conceived in the chilly asphalt jungle of Oslo, Norway – and nourished by a range of influences that vary from German Expressionist art to 80’s post-punk and newer shoegaze and neo-psychedelic rock. [Our] music can be described as dark and haunting, sometimes ecstatic and noisy, yet always indulgent to the soothing charms of melody.”
‘Hot Blood Shivering’ really sets the EP up in great style, with a deftness of touch and a dynamic, busy, racing mesh of guitars, bass and drums that has a touch of Technique-era New Order but with Ian Curtis vocals at the start before it expands into an ever more exciting piece that grabs you and demands replay upon replay – quite brilliant stuff. The titular track, ‘Into The Haze’ opens with simple patterns leading into brooding bass lines and a sense of quite ominous atmosphere, tense and pensive, that draws in the listener and that somehow works as both a counterpoint to and an extension of the EP’s lead-in song so that as an EP it really makes best use of that format to create a joined-up and complex listening experience.
These tracks kick-off with appealing little hooks or vignettes, momentary starting-points that are the gateways into each main event, a shimmer of light before the darkness descends and reels us in. ‘Pitfalls’ is no exception, a delicious fragment of scraping guitar sound that gets swallowed up into the the song, still there through the number, never quite swamped by the denser work around it and giving some of the melodic lightness that counteracts the intenseness of the vocals. When we get to the final track, ‘The Longing’, then everything we’ve come to expect through this EP is encapsulated again in its exquisite complexity and we’re ready to back round again to the start and find something new again in this collection’s intricacies.
Mayflower Madame is: Trond F. (vocals and guitars), Rune O. (guitars), Petter M. (bass) and O. J. (drums).