Lofty beauty. That’s the phrase that comes to my mind when I hear the music of Maine. No, I’m not talking about the indigenous sounds of Bangor, Augustus, Portland, or Oguquit. I’m talking about French electronic musician and composer Michel Dupay’s band Maine. I haven’t dug in too deep to Dupay’s past or what he did prior to Maine, not yet anyways. Right now I’m currently basking in the beauty of his newest LP titled V. Yes, there are are four other releases before it titled I, II, III, and IV, and they are absolutely stunning. Each one is a major step to something new, and V is the culmination of those steps. It’s a musical structure of dark, lofty beauty.
Dupay makes a heavy synth album that carries with it a lot of weight. It feels dense; built with stone, timber, European soil, and the ghosts that linger in that soil. There’s an early 80s discotheque quality to the music, but more Gothic than dance floor fodder. There’s a doomed romanticism that lingers over the proceedings, and with that there’s something very human about his work despite his preferred instrument is a fabricated machine that manipulates electricity with modulation to create melody. Dupay also makes Maine records without the help of MIDI instruments. All of his music is played, not synced with computers. That gives his work an immediacy, as its recorded with real drums, guitar, bass, and female vocals on a song. It’s the perfect melding of organic and synthetic.
V is comprised of 14 tracks, all slow, meticulous builds of tension and melancholy. “La Pluie” saunters out of the speakers with a mix of doomed sophistication and early 80s 4AD flair. It feels like opening credit music to some lost Italian Giallo film. “Trajection Lure” puts me in mind of UK artist Pentagram Home Video, albeit with slightly loftier goals. “Now We Rise And We Are Everywhere” has almost a video game vibe to it. It builds an electric anxiety while still retaining this semblance of early alternative 80s. “There And Then” could almost fit perfectly in some John Hughes film about friends or enemies becoming friends. There’s something very uplifting about this track.
I think one of the most affecting tracks here is the beautifully haunting “Below The Landslide”, featuring Nina on vocals. With the church organ-like sounds, tightly wound drum track, and the the loping melody it feels like a quiet moment by the seaside. There’s a longing that permeates this track. “Chaque etoile est un soleil qui se couche” is another that seems to shine, as does the tranquil “Left Hand”.
Elsewhere, “Black Cloud” has a bit of a wheezy analog groove to it. I could imagine some post-apocalyptic hero making his way through the wasteland with this track playing over the proceedings. It’s minimalist, but anything more on here and it would topple the magic. “Cadence” puts me in mind of Slasher Film Festival Strategy(another analog hero in the realm of synth music) with its ominous bass and strut of a rhythm.
The imagined film score is something of a popular thing these days. When it’s done right it can take you into that imagined world. Maine may not fit quite into that imagined film score genre, but his music definitely takes me into another world. Or realm. Cobblestone streets, hovering fog, and a chill in the air. Trees emptying themselves of dead leaves and a moon that looks big enough to hit with a rock. It feels like it came out of a time capsule. Beautiful electronic music from a bygone era. There is a beating heart in the chest of this machine, and it beats loudly.
8.3 out of 10