Jan 2013 01

Category: Darkwave / Electro
Album: My Dear EP
Stars: 3
Blurb: Athan Maroulis’ return to the musical forefront is soaked in moodiness and enriched by hints of electro-pop glamour.


Throughout the years that Athan Maroulis has devoted to the seminal Spahn Ranch, not to mention countless other projects that he has contributed to or engineered independently, he always managed to imprint his mark upon the musical fabrics. His voice, at once smoothly melodic and reverberating with the intensity of foreboding gothic overtones, echoes through the dark corners of My Dear, an EP that marks the genesis of NOIR, his latest mysterious endeavor. Although this is merely a prologue to a project that begs for more room to expand and evolve, it bodes well for the future of NOIR, even if My Dear ultimately skimps on grandiose attractions.

The titular “My Dear” puts heavy emphasis on Maroulis’ atmospheric delivery and, in fact, the bulk of the track’s overall value lies in the haunting tones that he animates so effortlessly. Musical textures sway between retro bleeps and glitches and elegant rhythmical beats that establish NOIR’s connection with the sparse and ascetic electro modes and funnels it away from darkwave domination. While the opening of the track provokes associations with the grimmest of gothic soundscapes, “My Dear” swiftly and repeatedly transcends expectations and the melodic vocal sees the listener through this electronic mélange with grace even if one is obviously aware that Maroulis does not challenge himself enough. As a taste of things to come, “My Dear” is just about enticing – meticulously conceived and patiently executed, albeit still a doppelganger of styles and influences that are easily recognizable and, only to an extent, successfully mutated into a pop structure. The following, serviceable cover of The Cure’s “A Forest” is moody in the same way that the 20-year-old original still is, but despite synchronicity with the preceding it material, it feels unnecessary. Given the brevity of the EP, a version of a preexistent hit appears to be as tantalizing as it is distracting, planting a seed of doubt in the listener’s mind as to what NOIR is in and of itself. Among the remixes of “My Dear,” there is as much to enjoy as there is to dismiss with Assemblage23’s effort standing as an immediate and undeniable highlight of the set. Although not necessarily surprising considering Tom Shear’s usual output, his reworking of Maroulis’ work sounds organically tied to his own Bruises. So deliberate and identifiable is the layer of melodic electronica underlying the vocal that the track’s scope expands to encompass both musical personas without the faintest hint of divergence. Similar in style and execution is Ego Likeness’ equally revitalizing take, but perhaps less pop inclined and not without ties to the band’s own gothic roots. ManMadeMan’s brief but solid mix rearranges the order of “My Dear” into a swirling and chaotic electro whirlpool while Lust Murder Box & DJ Void attempt to repackage it in bounce heavy, club oriented wrapping of trance synths and repetitious beats, even if it’s the darkwave profile of NOIR that remains more attractive.

It’s a shame that the experience with NOIR on My Dear is so brief and even more so since the tones that Athan Maroulis establishes here for his new project are, generally speaking, so vague. The recognition of his style and method comes as much from his past work, the album’s gothic imagery, and snippets of biography that can be found on NOIR’s website as it does from the five minutes that the listener actually gets to spend with the music itself. The shifts between the traits of gothic nightmares and electro-pop cheer are pleasant but will certainly require context that only a full-length album might provide. My Dear’s proficient execution inspires confidence but as this writer is left both curious and wary, so might you.
Track list:

  1. My Dear
  2. A Forest
  3. My Dear (Assemblage23 Remix)
  4. My Dear (Ego Likeness Remix)
  5. My Dear (ManMadeMan Remix)
  6. My Dear (Lust Murder Box & DJ Void Remix)

NOIR Facebook https://www.facebook.com/noirband
NOIR ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/noirbandpage
Metropolis Records Website http://www.metropolis-records.com
Metropolis Records MySpace http://www.myspace.com/metropolisrecords
Metropolis Records Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MetropolisRecords
Metropolis Records Twitter http://www.twitter.com/metropolisrec
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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