Mariana Semkina breaks off from iamthemorning on another shimmering and fragile collection.
Release date: 1st October 2021
Label: self released / Bandcamp
Following her 2020 debut solo album, Sleepwalking (our review) iamthemorning vocalist Mariana Semkina returns with her new EP Disillusioned. A five track combination dark folk with elements of electronica Disillusioned offers an ethereal indulgence.
The music has had a tricky birth. Spending long periods of the pandemic unable to write any new music, Marian comments: “I flew to Russia for a week and got stuck there when borders shut for half a year due to lockdown, which led to quite a bad depression – but after relocating back to the UK I got my second breath, got out of depression and got back to music.”
The title, not surprisingly, comes from herMariana’s state of mind while writing the EP alongside a desire to have more control and self-release the EP. The results are an outpouring of those emotions, comprising 3 original new songs alongside 2 covers sung in Icelandic and Hungarian, in which multiple layers of Mariana’s vocals combine with ambient electronica to create a haunting massed voice effect.
Those two pieces are crafted beautifully. “The two choir pieces I chose to include are a homage to the two places I’ve visited many times and love going to – Iceland and Hungary,” she says and there’s no doubt that singing in the native tongue adds an added dimension. Totalling nnt much more than three minutes between them, they explore ground Mariana has trodden briefly in the past. A seasonal feel comes over very powerfully – we may have tongue in cheekily hinted at a Christmas album in the past.
They punctuate three original songs that lyrically have been inspired by the poets of the Victorian era. A common theme for Mariana. The ground is very familiar as the opening lines seep through – “You, my only friend” – accompanied by a suitably disturbing video, as Friend glides in on a breath of a breeze. The waves build so subtle that before long you’re drowning in a powerful swell that stops so suddenly, it feels like being shaken from a dream.
The title track is as close as you may get to mainstream from Mariana. The instrumentation doffs a cap to some unusual sounds and rhythms that underpin a melody that stands proud with the signature gossamer vocal dancing on top. Some rich strings add their part to a tale where the delicacy of the arrangement disguises the lyrical darkness. An End picks up on the choral voices again that are such a strong element of Disillusioned. It’s a fairytale conclusion that contrasts the stark with more widescreen sweeps and again, a melody that’s to die for. The grandiosity at the conclusion is a rare concession to a bigger production amongst the restraint.
Regardless of her groundbreaking chamber prog work with Gleb Kolyadin in iamthemorning, Mariana Semkina is proving that working solo she’s more than capable of carrying a slowly burning solo torch.
Here’s Friend, the opening track from the EP: