Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Maria BC writes subdued, contemplative tracks that linger in the gray area between structured ambient and ‘60s freak folk. The Ohio-born artist now calls Oakland home, and it would be easy to trace the impact of California’s Bay Area on their earthy but crystalline music—the region is defined by a similar sense of duality, the way its rambling nature coexists with the industrial brutalism of its architecture. But Hyaline was recorded in the rooms of an untreated Brooklyn apartment; shaped by the confines of life in New York City, the album melds bleary samples recorded in Prospect Park with stripped-back guitar playing and gauzy vocal arrangements. The end result sounds calls to mind Grouper, Sibylle Baier, and Lomelda.
The word “hyaline” means transparent, and while the tracks on Maria BC’s first full length are often more overcast than azure, they are tied together by an ethereal, heavenly quality. “Reeling in the big one/ Shimmer in cerulean,” they sing atop blunt electric guitar arpeggiations on “Rerun.” On “The Only Thing,” digitally manipulated percussion and muted stringwork provide a melancholy backdrop for a soaring, melodically intriguing hook. On “Keepsakes” Maria BC dabbles in hypnagogic pop, pairing blown-out analog synthesizer chords and a barely-perceptible drum machine. The album’s most gripping moment arrives with “No Reason”: “Life is heavy, begging to be moved,” BC sings languidly, their classically trained mezzo-soprano voice evoking both ‘00s radio emo and traditional Celtic music. Hyaline is united by an aqueous sonic palette. With the exception of the occasional biting vocalization or dramatically ascending chorus, the record tends to play like one downy, cohesive piece.
“A lot of my music deals with feeling haunted by memory, as well as wanting to open up to new experiences and new memories that could reshape the lens through which I see the world,” Maria BC recently told The Fader. The quote illuminates the way in which they use imagined characters as vessels for exploring vulnerable personal themes. The dreamy soundscapes on Hyaline lays the framework for a sophisticated exercise in semi-diaristic, almost hallucinatory songwriting.