Maria Minerva’s sonic universe is a hard thing to describe. I might say she’s a more lo-fi Estonian version of Nite Jewel to give you some idea. That definition is somewhat limiting, as Maria has moved to London. Perhaps her work will herald in a re-evaluation of 80s/early 90s electronic music and its lovable cheesiness.
“Tallinn at Dawn” is a short and enjoyable album. Each song has its own personality while contributing to the general atmosphere of the album. A haze is spread thick over the tunes, as if the sound is coming from far away. Her voice has a sweet fragility which sounds sincere and half asleep. Even the melodies get confused.
None of the songs outstay their welcome. Loops are distorted, lose their way, and don’t bother coming back. Sometimes the sounds flirt with the idea of stopping completely as it descends into audio muck. “10 Little Rock Chix Listening to Neu!” starts up and nearly loses its energy. Actually, this makes the song more enjoyable, as the unpredictability and general disarray of the song brings her close to hypnagogic pop’s ideal.
Songs become felt both on a hummable, traditional pop sense and a dreamier, more emotional sense. They differ from the rather straightforward “Hop Hop Gone in Spring” to the sample-laden “Sad Serenade (Bedroom Rock N’ Roll)”. On the latter track, there’s a noticeable 90s influence two-thirds of the way into the song. It is a nice flair to an already solid enough song.
A blurring comes along in the other songs where it references multiple sounds at once. “Unchain my Heart” is probably the best example of this approach. Other songs constantly bleed in and out of the mix, like she recorded multiple songs onto the same tape. Then she proceeds to sing along with the other song as it shifts back to the original song.
Not Not Fun did a great job putting out this cassette. Give this album a few listens as its many charms require a few listens. It is well-done sonic oddity. She’s collaborating with another favorite of mine (LA Vampires) so thankfully we’ll have more by her this year.