Thanks to the wonder that is soundcloud.com, I was hooked on Deaf Heat, Maricka Hackman's latest EP, well before it touched down in purchasable form. Now that the fresh set of tunes is available both on CD, and in the ITunes/Google Play stores, you too can get your brain stuck on the twining refrains of Deaf Heat.
Hackman's music has always had a dark air to it, but these songs must be the eeriest yet. Nigh-on religious chants and echoes mix with jungle-like rhythms, while Marika's vocals remain ghostly and pure - reminiscent, I always find, of the whisper of fine sand, or silk sheets on skin. Speaking of which, the sounds of the EP have a similar way of gliding over the ears; they envelope the mind without distracting it (probably why each harmony tends to remain floating on the edge of hearing for hours after the song ends).
Tongues is a breathy, religious chorus. It envelops you in the sensations of cold marble echoes and reverant candlelight. Here, we can truly see how Marika shines at creating full-throttle vocal soundscapes using only her own voice and instrumentation - she is a spectacular one-woman choir.
Deep Green then departs from the gentle swells of the previous track by throwing us straight into wailing vocals and frantic drums. The whole song feels volatile and bitter, with stabs of harmony and urgent strings. Hackman's silky voice somehow manages to impart a vicious nature into the words 'Beat me at my own damn game, fucking with my god damn brain' without departing from her usual apathetic smoothness. It all makes you feel a little like kicking someone, followed by a good victory dance.
Call Off The Dogs is a return to Hackman's characteristic eerie melancholy. After a whispering verse filled with her signature unexpected melodies, the song builds to a thickly emotional chorus, before trailing off into spooky twangs of instrumentation.
I Follow Rivers finishes off the EP with a trippy combination of droning synths and Hackman's take on Lykke Li's spooky lullaby. This sounds like aliens, or mermaids, or alien mermaids. It's a soft, watery embrace. It's Marika Hackman at her intense, ethereal best.