Maud The Moth – The Inner Wastelands

Maud The Moth – The Inner Wastelands

One glance at the CD sleeve of The Inner Wastelands, the second album from this Spanish-born musician, could lead the viewer to expect all manner of strangeness contained within. Certainly, its title seems to belong to a quite different record than the poised, musically complex and less quirky than you might expect album that it is. Which isn’t to say that Maud The Moth and her music are in any way dull or predictable, as they certainly aren’t, it’s just that (to reveal her true identity) Amaya López-Carromero might be manipulating her images to confound our expectations, confident that her actual songs are of sufficient qualities to put preconceptions aside on hearing them.

This is more guesswork about the motives of a musician than I would normally indulge in, but I was definitely expecting to hear a more experimental and abrasive sounding album, that borrowed more obviously from boundary pushing female musical pioneers such as Siouxsie and Danielle Dax, from heavy rock, from electronica, just something that sounded a bit less musically erudite and skilful. Some professional musicians choose to keep their actual abilities partly hidden, making whatever are considered the right noises for their chosen audiences. Maud The Moth may have started off as a more edgy species of performer but The Inner Wastelands  is a too considered and well-made album to find itself filed automatically alongside the music of more extravagant artistes such as Bjork, Bat For Lashes and PJ Harvey.

I’ve heard one or two similar records though, neither of those I can quote by very famous female performers, although I would try to not read too much into the fact that the albums by Kat Vipers and Tracy Bonham, which The Inner Wastelands had me recalling, were also reviewed by me on this site. There is also something of the softly-paced dramas of Suzanne Vega about Maud The Moth, although when she decides to up that pace the results can take on a strident urgency. Her vocal swoops from one end of the register to another without sounding overly forced or exaggerated, and there’s some effective multi-tracking of her voice throughout the album’s eleven tracks, while the strings and percussion arrangements that back up her songs contain a purposeful dynamic of their own.

What The Inner Wastelands really is though, is a verging-on virtuoso piano album. Listening to it for the fifth or sixth time, it seemed that with each listen I was hearing less of the orchestration, less of the vocal, and more of Maud’s very accomplished and intricate keyboard style, to a point where the album began to sound like a 40 minute concerto with occasional interjections instead of the collection of songs that it actually is. Maud The Moth is probably aware that at least some of her audience are going to go away disappointed that The Inner Wastelands, with so many of its themes drawn from the natural world and its close to classical musicality, wasn’t a post-industrial noise fest, or a folksy campfire singalong, or that they couldn’t dance to it, but just as many of her listeners are going to find themselves a little dazzled by her inventive brilliance.

Maud The Moth on Bandcamp