- Of all the talent ghosting out of the Not Not Fun camp these days, Maria Minerva is my favourite. Her smoky sound is riddled with hypnagogic haze—half detached disco diva and half unstable weirdo all wrapped up in her own peculiar brand of breathless, gasping sexuality. With only a cassette tape (the warmed-over psych pop of Tallinn at Dawn) and an excellent twelve-inch to her name, Cabaret Cixous marks her proper debut LP.
While there's nothing quite as ramshackle as "Disko Bliss," most of Cabaret Cixous shares its preference for sampled makeshift beats. Sometimes they're merely hinted at—like the phased, intermittent Balearica of "Laulan Paikse Kaes" or the thundering pattern that coalesces from chaos on lengthy closer "Ruff Trade"—but most of the tracks have a distinct heartbeat behind them, however convoluted or broken it might be. On "Pirate's Tale," sampled breaks mesh with Ghost Box-worthy synths. "Soo High" combines post-punk snarl with classic rock chug, with Minerva's spectral murmur buried somewhere in the mix. The only constant is the way that the album feels wet, as if Minerva's breathy vocals were fogging up the windows and the reheated beats turning every surface clammy and moist.
Despite its lo-fi nature, Cabaret Cixous has surprisingly lush analogue synths. The dreamy "Luvcool" recalls early electronic synth explorations through the lens of early '80s pop. The politics of sound quality weigh heavily on a release like this—so many of these tracks could come close to genuine pop, but it's all irreparably mired in fuzz, snags and kinks. "Once Upon" layers Orientalist strings and drum machines in a way that recalls Mirage-era Fleetwood Mac, for example. But it's only a fleeting resemblance. On most of her work, Cixous included, Minerva falls somewhere between obscurity and anticipation, like she's moving towards an ultimately pop future that she'll never really reach. (Or even wants to.) That's why it works.
01. These Days
02. Pirate’s Tale
04. Once Upon
05. Honey Honey
06. Laulan Paikse Kaes
07. Soo High
08.I Luv Ctrl
09. Favourite Song (Italo Interlude)
11. Ruff Trade