Higher Spirit is available at:
August 9th, 2015
AFTER a run of great female artists I get the chance to….
feature a terrific London two-piece. Before I come to my featured act, I wanted to look at duos once more- something I have touched on- in addition to uplifting sounds and the importance of creating music that one can lose themselves in. I am sticking with London this week- two London acts coming over the next few days- and a great duo that have a stunning sound at their disposal. Having featured duos on this blog before- quite a wide range of shapes and sizes- I am thrilled to concentrate on another. What I love about duos is the connections they have: The simpatico and bond the two musicians have for one another. The solo artist has to do all their own work and has to rely on their voice and opinions. It can be quite a lonely existing, and as such, the music can quite be limited. I have seen quite a few solo artists who have an amazing inventive sound. Too many (in my opinion) do not leave that much of an impression. While the music they produce can get inside the heart and speak to a listener; I find the tunes lack that necessary spark and sense of fun. Of course there are solo artists that can produce something exhilarating, yet it is the duos that do this best. A lot of the duos I have reviewed have been in relationships- maybe accounting for the closeness they share- but quite a few are good friends. While bands can suffer break-ups and friction; I find duos are much more cemented and compelling. There is just something about the chemistry that amazes me: How the duo work with one another and the music they come up with. If you look at the end-of-year polls and declarations from critics- which acts are going to own 2016- few of the aforementioned are duos. 2016 will see a lot of promising and diverse solo artists coming through; some exciting bands will be emerging- what of the great two-pieces we have out there? Perhaps it is a musical dynamic that will gain appropriate support I years to come: I find too few people are taking note of some wonderful duos out there. If Mãs are anything to go by; we should all be spending more time checking out the duo market. What the London-based boys do is produce music that has Funk edges and a definite kick. They make music for the outcasts and the dreamers: Sounds that the artists, poets and lovers will revel in- a veritable Molotov cocktail of colour, hypnotic swagger and smile-inducing beauty. It is hard to really pin-down and define their sound: A unique and stunning act emerging; they are musicians you definitely need to study closely. Before I continue my points, let me introduce Mãs to you:
“We are Mãs. We make party hymns for outcasts. We are an Electro/Pop duo formed in London in 2015.
The music we write is influenced by the hooks of Michael Jackson, the grooves of Prince and the atmospheres of Daft Punk. The result is an avant-garde pop you would love to lose yourself to.
Currently, we are working on the production and recording of our Debut EP, which is planned to be released in spring 2016”.
So many duos tend to be Acoustic-sounding and Folk-inspired- quite wistful and romantic- or go in with a lot of force and intent. What Massimo and Marco do is create music that has shades of classic artists- Michael Jackson, Prince and Daft Punk are influences of theirs- and inject their unique brand of fun and uplift. It is always wonderful hearing musicians that get the listener upbeat and excited. I find too much new music is quite sonorous and introverted: There is that missing magic and fire that can get the crowds unified in a dance of delirium. With their debut E.P. not far away, Mãs are a duo that are going to be on the lips of many reviewers and critics. Considering myself an archetypal ‘outsider’- someone who is never really understood and has big dreams- the music Mãs summon not only connects with me but makes me feel less misunderstood/alone. The boys are keen to ensure their brand of sound you can immerse yourself in and surrender to. Our duo creates a polemic against the rather serious and self-indulgent brand of music that many new acts are providing. Many will read this and have the same thought: If their music is ‘fun’ and merry then it is not going to have a serious message or any real solidity. Massimo and Marco have a solid and unflinching friendship that has resulted in some terrific music: Every note and moment has that passion and quality to it. The boys are not your simplistic upbeat-making musicians that are concerned with compositions alone: Every element of their music has depth and intelligence to it. If you consider the early days of Michael Jackson- Off the Wall and Thriller– you get those Disco hooks and funky-as-hell feet-moving lines. Perhaps not as blistering as Jackson’s early work, the London two-piece have their own brand of Funk and Pop. Combining electronic elements inside soulful layers- little bits of Prince’s early work comes out too- and you have a duo with few comparisons. Electro.-Pop is a genre- or sub-genre I guess- that has quite a few patriots and players. A lot of the music created (by Electro.-Pop artists) tends to hit you upon first listening and perhaps not linger in the mind. Mãs are masters of the nuanced sound: Penning tracks that hit you instantly and then never escape the brain. Inspired by some of music’s colossuses- the Jacksons and Princes- you have songs that hark back to ‘80s Pop whilst providing plenty of atmosphere and modern-day urgency. They are not an act that keeps their minds in the past: Everything they produce is forward-thinking and progressive. Being a sapling act in music- they were only formed last year- the guys have made big strides over a short period. In a city that is hugely competitive and busy the Mãs boys are going to be working hard to get their names heard. London has quite a few great duos working at the moment: For my money, none are quite as unique and distinct. In a cold winter and uncertain time we all want to embrace music that warms us and allows some escapism. For that reason, I feel like this year will be a hugely beneficial one for Mãs: Their E.P. will get a lot of attention and their fan numbers will climb rapidly. Right now the boys have a small (but loyal) following that has promoted and supported their music since its inception. Higher Spirit is as evocative and uplifting as its title suggests: A rapturous and serotonin-producing slice of Electro.-Pop that is a panacea against the sloganeering bands and easy-on-the-ear music of solo acts. Possessing depth, mystique and wonder; I think more people should take Mãs to their hearts: When you do the rewards will be huge, believe me. With spring seeming like a far-off impossibility- it is fricking freezing- Higher Spirit is a music that warms the heart and brings sunshine to the fore- who would readily overlook that?!
Over the past year, Mãs have produced some stunning songs. Last year- and perhaps their first song they made public- Tiger was released into the wild. Starting with finger clicks and bubbling beats: The track has a delicious unique start. Romantic mystique and tiger eyes (in disguise) are laid out. Our hero is hearing words he will “never hear again”. His sweetheart is not holding his hand- although that does not matter- and there is that building mystery and intrigue. The composition continues its endeavor at every stage: Never overbearing or too slight you get sucked in by those racing beats and chugging electronics. Little shades of Daft Punk come through- that moodiness and atmosphere blends- alongside some cool-slung Prince. Blending Soul, Funk and Electronic together results in a track that has a constant energy and racing pulse. Never relenting and drawing breath there are cute touches- the song’s title chanted at intervals- and wonderful diversions. The song looks at two lovers with perhaps some different ideals. Time and separation has caused some pulling-apart. A mesmeric and stunningly realised first effort; you get blown by the confidence and authority that comes through.
Dancing With the Tides was released soon after (Tiger) and begins with instant swagger. Those Daft Punk elements come to the core as we get some funky and sassy electronics. Sassy and hip-shaking: This is one of the most urgent and instant tracks from the duo. A dance-floor filler; it is impossible to ignore the gravity and brilliance. The duo combines voices to draw the listener fully into the song. Looking at more positive sides of love- traveling deep into the ocean and escaping from the city- there is that hopefulness and passion that radiates bright. Constantly catchy and engaging; it shows just how tight and consistent Mãs are. Most acts tend to take time to warm up: Their first few songs see them finding their feet and looking for their sound. No such quibble with the London duo who arrive fully-formed and solid from the very off.
Maradona begins with vocals- something the duo has not done before- and begins quite sparsely. Romantic and longing, you pay attention to the soul and sweetness of the vocal. Almost a Gospel number; our hero looks at the sun (in the morning) and the moon at night. His eyes do not want to close- there is transcendence to the track- and the elements are brought into the song early on. A song that speaks to the outsider- our hero is not alone and how someone on his side- you have a departure from the duo. One of their most unique songs- a switch from their most effusive and busy numbers- the key is on that emotional and bare sound. The voice is allowed to shine and do its work: Lyrics look at battling the odds and holding onto someone who means a lot. A champion call to those that need direction and focus: Maradona is a song that will resonate with many listeners. The song does start to build after a while and rises into a glorious vocal harmony. As the song’s title is repeated you get a hugely spine-tinging chorusing. Reminding me of Michael Jackson’s early days; I get glimmers of Off the Wall’s mixture of introspective balladeering and the funkier side of things. Combining ‘80s Pop with something modern and fresh: Here you have a song that hints at a very bright future.
The boys have developed and grown in confidence since their debut cut. With every moment you get a new perspective and sound emerging. Not a duo that sticks with one sound- and rings it to death- it is wonderful to hear the progression and consistency they offer. The production values are consistently wonderful whilst the performances from the duo are exceptional. I can see Mãs producing an E.P. that brings in their best moments- Maradona, Higher Spirit and Dancing With the Tides– and expanding on this. Higher Spirit fits nicely into their catalogue and marks as their most immediate and nuanced song so far. A young act with a lot of spirit and talent: Who knows how far they can go this year.
Having gained a lot of attention and praise already, I was excited to get down to studying Higher Spirit– just what the boys had on offer. Their most slinky and seductive groove to date: The introduction wiggles, dances and steps its way into the light. I have mentioned the likes of Michael Jackson and Prince: Apt comparisons given the quality and addictiveness of those early notes. You could throw in Nile Rodgers into the mix too. Sparring Disco of the ‘70s with ‘80s Funk-Pop- via a bit of modern-day Electro.-Pop- and the listener is already excited and moving. Funky spandex strings are cool cats that are walking the streets with swagger: You start to picture the song unfolding and just what could come next. A confident and exciting first few seconds; no listener will be immune to the movement and power Mãs provide. When the vocal does arrive the words are delineated with pace and consideration. Ladling out the lyrics carefully; the listener is afforded the opportunity to understand and feel everything being song. An hitch-pitched and soulful vocal; our hero is directing his words towards an anonymous heroine. “We can do the twist” are words that beckon images of abandonment and fun. When the words “Touch me like a stranger” flow forward I get the impression our man is on the dance-floor: Perhaps in the arms of a mystery girl and in the grip of a mesmerising song. That is the beauty of Higher Spirit: The words give different possibilities and ideas; it is hard to get a clear truth from them. It may sound like a negative yet the listener is allowed their own interpretation and views. In the early phase, I was captured by the smooth and rich vocal: Reminding me a U.S. Soul great; perhaps tones you would not expect from a modern-day London-based musician. As I try to get to the bottom of the lyrics- and just what the duo are saying- the track accelerates and increases its urgency. A hollering of “Lighting me up” comes through backed by pulsating and rampant percussion. So much unfolds early on- in terms of the composition and ideas thrown in- it is a dizzying experience indeed. It seems like our hero is lost in the dance and under the spell of a very special woman. Each listener will let their mind wander, although from my perspective, I saw the two alone and in the heat of the summer sun. Enraptured and overcome with desire, there is that explosive possibility: Two hearts coming together and two bodies surrendering to one another. Maybe over-sexualising the lyrics- or letting me own mind wander too far- it is impossible to resist the allure and potency of the music.
That seduction and come-to-me spell-cast is wonderful to hear. Such a confident and direct vocal that gives gravitas and authority to every word that is sung. Our hero knows the girl wants him- he sure as hell wants her- and the two convey to the dance-floor. Like Michael Jackson and Prince; our boys manage to keep their lyrics and sexual desire clean and intriguing- without descending into smut and profanity. The idea of the song is quite simple: Our hero’s spirit and soul can lift the two higher if they dance together. It is at this stage- as the chorus comes in- that I started to wonder whether this was a first-time encounter or not. Maybe our hero is in a relationship with the girl and wants to get lost in a romantic and paradise scene. Perhaps this a chance meeting between stranger- a calling-out from across the dance-floor- as the two meet in the middle of a packed club. That sweet-cum-saucy blend takes your mind and consciousness in different directions: The heartfelt and soulful vocals conjure romantic possibilities; the sweat-dripping falsetto takes your thoughts somewhere hotter and harder. The guys throw in some neat little details throughout the track: sassy bass notes and crest-of-the-wave percussion give vibrancy and constant electricity to Higher Spirit. Our hero is a fool for the girl: Whoever she is has cast her spell on him hard. Fans of the older Funk/Disco/Pop masters- Jackson, Prince and their ilk- will find a lot to recommend in the track’s authority and affection tribute. Massimo and Marco grew up listening to those legends so it is no surprise they evoke their memories with such conviction and authority. That said; Higher Spirit has a very modern and contemporary vibe to it: The likes of Pharrell Williams would definitely approve of the song. The twin vocal assault- where the duo get to overlap and combine- gives extra weight and attack to the song. One of the most impressive facets of Mãs is how committed and dedicated they are to the subject matter: Every one of their tracks has such urgency and passion at every turn. Even towards the closing moments, that seductive coo never silences: Our lead is intoxicated by desire and the charms of a jaw-dropping woman. Whether Higher Spirit was inspired by events from the lives of Mãs- perhaps a late-night club encounter- I am not sure but that does not matter. The song is that which can be understood and appreciated by all listeners. Accessible and direct- whilst retaining some mystery- there are no limits to Higher Spirit. Here is a song that could be a radio staple- I imagine it will be very soon- and is perfect for every climate and location. It does not isolate itself or become moody at any point: From the introduction to the end you have a song that smiles and welcomes people in. Only the stoniest of listeners will be able to stop their feet from moving in time to the music. The guys have composed a song that brings so much vitality and dance together: One of the most memorable and impressive songs I have heard from a duo at any time. When I was assessing Stockholm-based duo Sameblod- who make similarly intriguing and assured music- I was stunned at how confident and tight the music was. Mãs have no nerves or limits when it comes to their music: That marks them as one of the most promising acts to emerge in 2016. As the final notes of Higher Spirit play- and the chorus is reintroduced to keep the listener dancing- it is not a song you want to end. Keeping mouths watering and eyes bright; the London duo has crafted a song that speaks to all ages and tastes- a hugely impressive feat.
Kudos must be given to Massimo and Marco who show no signs of quality dip or slowing. Since their formation, they get more confident and bold with every new release. Bringing in new compositional ideas and influences; their music is at its most arresting and universal. That is not to say the duo is playing it safe at all- quite the opposite in fact. The stunning duo has a sound and talent that few of their peers possess. Higher Spirit is a song that will certainly get crowds united and arms waving aloft. With that being said, there is huge potential to crack the radio-waves and the press: An impossible-to-dislike song, it has definite mainstream appeal and underground credit. I have seen a lot of duos come along that make similar music: None has the same effect and magic as Mãs. Bringing in the best elements of Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and Prince- funky jams with sexuality and sensuality at its heart- with cutting-edge and impressive production values- you have a song that unites genres, decades and moods. A sun-worshiping track that brims and explodes with desire and lust: Perhaps one of the most enticing and scintillating cuts of 2016 so far. Let us hope Mãs capitalise on their promise and momentum when it comes to their E.P. When that is released- and where Higher Spirit fits in the mix- it is sure to capture the imagination and attentions of the music press. Perhaps the boys have been under-the-radar so far: This year they will not be such a well-kept secret.
My congratulations to Massimo and Marco who have created a duo that is among music’s most promising. The duo do not simply stick with tried-and-tested Electro.-Pop sounds: Our boys mix in elements of their heroes- Prince and Jacko hooks with some Daft Punk atmospherics- to create music that not only exhilarates the feet and arms- it gets inside the soul and digs deep. Musicians that leave lasting impressions are few-and-far-between in an economy that shows quick turnover and disposability. For that reason, we should invest in artists who have definite staying power and originality to them. Mãs might just be starting their careers- their initial moments are hugely promising- but the boys will be going on to big things. Higher Spirit– their back catalogue for that matter- has a sound that radio stations cannot refute. So full of life and energy; wonderful sounds that get inside the head (and stay there for a long time) – who can ignore such a force in music? I am not sure when the boys are going to be playing live this year. I guess there will be London tour dates and some local shows- perhaps they want to focus on their E.P. – but I would love to see them live. Hearing that music in the flesh is going to be a terrific experience. With a collection of stunning songs under their belt, it seems like Mãs have plenty of material ready for their E.P. Before tying this all up, I wanted to come back to the issues of duos and bringing the fun back into music. Whilst critical minds and attentions seem obsessed with bands- they are still the hottest property and marketable dollar- there is a swing towards the solo artists. Having seen the ‘tips for 2016’ lists that have come out- including B.B.C. among them- the solo act is coming into view firmly. What critics are favouring at the moment- as opposed to previous years perhaps- is music that has that distinct spark and originality. A lot of female solo artists are being given some impressive nods: Those special and emotive voices- mixed with songs that have huge originality- are getting plaudits and a lot of respect. Mabel (a soulful Pop storyteller), Izzy Bizu (sunny Soul with an incredible voice) and Frances (atmospheric piano Pop) have been lauded because of their fresh sounds and depth.
Not your average Pop star with committee-penned songs; this year we are going to see some talent and stunning young solo acts emerge. Jack Garratt and his Electro.-Pop soulfulness- tied to some head-slamming beats- sits alongside Alessia Cara- her candid and cool R&B sounds have enticed critics. Publications and the press are heralding acts that bring important emotions and sides to music: Cool and atmospheric; harmony and sun-kissed bliss; conscientiousness and dreaminess- blended into big beats and nuanced compositions. Gone are the days we are promoting artists that are merely ‘a voice’ or sound like someone else. There is a definite seismic shift that means the likes of Mãs are very much in vogue. They have that blend of sunshine and cool: The emotion and dreaminess is already there as is the terrific beats and sexual electronics. While some terrific solo artists have caught the eye of some big names- I missed out the wonderful Jack Garratt- the bands are still getting quite a lot of attention and patronage. What is missing is a nod to the tremendous duos that are coming through. Perhaps not as widespread and numerous (as solo acts and bands) they are a growing economy that are among music’s most spectacular and promising. It is a rather baffling over-site considering what I have said up-top: The fact duos have a solid bond and longevity potential. Solo artists are alone and have to work hard to raise money and interest. Their own P.R. and publicity machines; the lone stars have a hard struggle to make ends meet- let alone making a name for themselves! The bands are going into a busy market and often sound samey and unfocused: Too many new bands lack that originality and spark. Solo acts provide the unique sounds and cross-pollinating innovation. Bands give those riffs and big sounds: Solid and festival-ready music for the masses. If you find a duo that can do all of this then they should not be easily ignored. Many duos are sweethearts and lovers- the boy-girl duo is largely composed of lovers- and close friends. It is clear Massimo and Marco has a deep connection and a tremendous love for what they do. Music that promotes fun and uplift is rare in the music industry and few new artists manage to perfect this. Mãs are a multi-coloured partnership that unifies ‘80s Disco and Funk through a modern spectrum: The resultant explosion is music that takes you somewhere special and safe. Every listener and music lover need to find something that allows them escapism and something transcendent. Making music for outsider and dreamers; our intrepid duo should be applauded for their accomplishments so far. They have caught the attention of fans and followers- the best days are still ahead. With an E.P. scheduled for a spring release, the London two-piece is a tantilsing proposition with a tremendous sound. Higher Spirit is a song that will bounce around the brain long after the final notes. On a cold and uncertain day, let yourself get lost inside music that…
WARMS the heart and inflames the senses.