Mauv’s new album Armageddon is one of the many artistic products of the pandemic freezing people in space and time. For Tom Kellett, the man behind Mauv, this was luckily in the family home in Yorkshire and that’s where the bulk of the album was recorded. Unsurprising then that the tracks have an unsettling quality to them with an uneasy and compelling otherworldliness that clings to the tracks like mist.
Kellet’s voice runs through the core of these songs, mostly spoken, with occasional lifts into a tune, regardless of whether it’s ‘Young Bucks’ which builds from a gentle rumble to a thundering crescendo (as you have travelled from the countryside to a busy town full of road works), the gentle susurration of a repeated acoustic guitar line on ‘Armageddon’ or the urgent beat of ‘Paradise’ or ‘Manual’. This is a voice that’s close to your ear, whispering the secrets of this album to you, and you alone.
Mauv eschewed software for hardware during the recording, preferring physical synthesisers, a drum machine, drum kit and a guitar, and this gives the tracks a more ‘in-the-room’ feeling. I wondered if, by going analogue in the recording process, it brought out musical backdrops and moods and that influenced the direction the songs could take. This is an album that can encompass the 70s horror-film-meets-David Lynch vibe on ‘Space To Let’, the beat repetitions of ‘Paradise’, ‘Manual’ and ‘Year Of The Rat’ (that reminded me of how The Talking Heads constructed Remain in Light) and even the fuzzed up indie pop of ‘Wash Over Me’.
Kellet says that Armageddon was “an endeavour to collage together contrasting forms of music, from ambient to pop to more experimental electronica” and, despite being recorded in Yorkshire, inspiration came from the upheaval of moving to London and that “jump into the rhythm of a large city”.
I found these songs very heady, and was easily lost in the atmosphere they created. They seem to bubble up from the subconscious or drift out of a dark, foreboding forest while still drawing you in, and long after I had finished listening to the album I still had the scent of trees in my nostrils.
Review by Paul F Cook