Review ·

Given that the scattering of musicians I like lately all have the same initials (Edward Droste, David Enos, and David Edwards - the man behind Minotaur Shock), while corresponding from the state of Delaware (postal code: DE), I'm beginning to worry out the alignment of the cosmos.

While driving to said underrated state's shore from Washington, D.C., and on a detour from Mapquest's internal-combustion system in the rural countryside, I insisted my cousin Katherine pull into a gas station to check our directions before we ended up in a cornfield. My cousin Ingrid and my aunt Susan, who gave me a present of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca eight years ago, coincidentally greeted me from the station's refrigerated beverage section.

David Edwards's newly minted disco folktronica, as easily aligned with Sufjan Stevens as Aphex Twin, is a little bit very crazy. Not that deejays shouldn't read melodramatic 1930s novels, but when Edwards cited du Maurier as a serious influence on his album, the royal "we" were a little, uh, surprised. Does he spray himself with violet perfume too?

Taking the ocean as a foundation for rhythm, Maritime offers a deeply narcotic and glamorous epic tale of the sea. And du Maurier seems apt as the calm push and pull of the waves emerges, and the odd creak of the ship's deck materializes in foreboding oboes and clarinets. Minotaur Shock fits into a new vein of 4AD, the Tiffany's of '90s rock labels. After a decade of suffering with the Pixies, you can imagine 4AD would have an envie to chill out. Or worse, get happy (!) pushing lapsarian pirate dance tunes for the post-grunge millennium.

Settled in the middle of the album is the dense mid-tempo track "Hilly," as evocative as Caetano Veloso's late-1960s work, even more complex than Four Tet. Nearing the end, on "The Broads," Edwards creates tension by pitting Dynasty-inspired electro tremolo against breezy string and wind sections. The album builds its gingerbread house of operatic synthesizers and draws you in, sticky sweet and highly false. Like any fantasy, Maritime is darkly torn between the contrast of the present and another world.

Song-by-song explanations of 'Maritime'

Minotaur Shock Web site

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