A Problem Like Maria is a singer and songwriter, internet radio DJ, and hip-hop MC who’s music ranges from trip-hop style synth pop, to hip-hop, and pretty much everything else. She is part of the musical collective, The Hai and has worked with the likes of Water Gun Water Gun Sky Attack and Radio Wire Empire, with this release seeing her team up with producer Almost Technicolor. A Problem Like Maria’s sound is hard to pin down, it’s not like her music is genre transcending or overtly experimental but that it combines a multitude of genres together in subtle ways to where you’re getting an even blend of sounds from a diverse range of musical styles which I think is most apparent on her collaborative effort with Radio Wire Empire. Almost Technicolor is the solo electronic project of Aaron Dawson, a musician from Rochester, MN who’s solo album, ‘Planet Altech’ was release last year which saw him infusing genres such as industrial, classical, and hip-hop with the glossy shine of contemporary music. ‘Europa’ is a remastered compilation of singles from 2011 featuring a collaboration between the aforementioned artists.
The first track ‘Deliberate Existence’ started off the EP on a negative note for me. The main downer for me were the vocals, Maria’s style of rapping is poetic and lyrically entertaining but her flow, the way the words come out felt clumsy. The appeal is there but its definitely going to be specific to certain people while it will isolate others. I was impressed with the beats that Almost Technicolor provides on this collaboration, particularly on the title track. The production features plenty of bass, some bold beats, synth and spacey background noises that pulls it all together nicely. There is a lot of depth and textures that help envelop the listener in the music. Maria comes through with some great singing, although I will say I could do without some of the vocal effects on her voice. It became more distracting for me than it was enforcing and at some points they just seemed to be thrown in without reason. The last track is a remix of ‘Never Sleep’ by Nights of Rizal. This track actually happened to be my favorite on the EP. The production style is very simple, at times glitchy with this shimmering synth coupled with Maria’s expressive vocals that makes for a flavorful track.
There were some good sounds but I did have some trouble coming back to the EP. There wasn’t any particular song that I really disliked, the EP as a whole just did not capture my interest as much. The content was rather linear leaving little room for the music to really grab your attention and it often felt like the music was clashing with Maria’s singing style as though she was just singing over the beats as oppose to singing with them. Although not a completely engaging series of songs, this EP showcases A Problem Like Maria expanding on her vocal abilities and Almost technicolor working with both conventional beats as well as experimental.
Overall rating: 6.4
Favorite Track: ‘Never Sleep (Nigts of Rizal)’
Recommended: Beat lovers will feel at place here while those looking for a bit more will find a home as well.
Released: 14 February 2012
A Problem Like Maria: Check out APLM on Bandcamp
Almost Technicolor: Visit the Bandcamp page