Releasing her debut album “MA14” as one of brand new record label, 1991’s launch projects, Cape Town based artist Maxime Alexander has put forward a perplexingly unusual musical project for our perusal. Comprising of six highly bizarre tracks whose melodic content varies from grooving electro beats to stuttering staccato moments fit to trigger aural epilepsy.
The opening track, ‘Passive Regression’ is swimming in alien synths and whining, somewhat creepy accordion-esque sound. Although initially it seems to be what could be assumed a progressive track, the song only intermittently varies in pitch and tempo resulting in a deeply strange repetitive streak underlying the song. ‘Diminishing Returns’ has an intro worthy of a horror film soundtrack, as a multitude of unnerving sounds are layered upon one another, before dropping perplexingly cheerfully into an upbeat, grooving electro melody. Drawing the album up out of its eerie depths, the two contrasting musical elements juxtapose surprisingly well.
In ‘Diminishing Returns II’ the listener finds a similarly creepy intro to compliment its sister track, which swiftly gives way to a simplistic electro beat. Light and single-layered and gently tapping, the sound is almost that of a deconstructed trance track, with each of the contrasting components making solo appearances. Named after a tranquilising drug, ‘Diazepam’ is probably the calmest song on the album, and a well needed break from the orchestrated cacophony of the previous tracks. Rolling in gentle ambience and brimming with intermittent off-kilter elements the track somewhat mimics the soothing effects of the drug.
Returning sharply to her signature, bizarre sound, ‘NULLL’ gradually builds itself from the ground up, with several intermingling baselines battling quietly for ground. Being the longest track of the album at over seven minutes, the song varies in its electronic intensity, from gently bouncing melody to the rattling, crackling, unnerving sound in which the album appears to be steeped.
The project closes on ‘KKKKKKK’, whose intro is an intense minute of stuck-record electro sound which, just as you think you simply cannot take it anymore, drops into a grooving dance progression for a time, before reverting back to whence it came.
With so varied and bizarre a sound, Maxime Alexander is difficult to pinpoint, and I have a feeling this is exactly her aim: to bewilder and confuse, without wholly scaring the listener away.
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Listen to “MA14” below.