I am frequently labeled a hipster because I listen to an abundance of strange music. When I get the occasional "what kind of music do you listen to" question, it's always followed by a mental scramble to come up with a band that the questioner might have heard of. Usually I cop out and name a more mainstream group that I enjoy on occasion, like The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons or Of Monsters and Men.
So in an effort to truly live up to my hipster label, I bring you an act that I can almost guarantee you have never heard of: Marlais.
It's hard to find details on who Marlais is exactly. I gather from an obscure interview that it is a single-person act. The only other things I know are that he is from Berlin, and that he knows how to mix folk and electronic music into a fascinating and delicious concoction.
Most of the small amount of attention Marlais has garnered so far is due to a pair of well-received alt-J remixes released last year and promoted by alt-J to their many fans on social media. But it's the rest of the songs that drive my increasing addiction to this mysterious artist. Every song is its own unique combination of bizarre tribal folk lamentations, atmospheric space textures, and Bonobo-like trance-inducing electronic grooves — three ingredients that form a new genre hereby known as "tribal space pop."
From the smoother, symphonic, almost Shigeto-esque songs like Camille, to the eccentric folk oddities like Saul, to the middle ground tracks such as Love is Teasin' (which has a Bear Mountain vibe), there's a lot going on here, but it's all tied together by trippy beats and a calm insistence on staying in your head for days at a time.
The Marlais catalog is, for the most part, exclusively available on SoundCloud and Bandcamp thus far, and though I'm usually an Rdio purist, I set up a SoundCloud playlist to listen to my favorite tracks. Which are pretty much all of them, minus the alt-J remixes. Don't get me wrong, the remixes are swell and alt-J has yet to make a bad song, but the original music is much more interesting in this case.
I can't wait to see what this guy comes up with next. Here's hoping that someday, when I answer my friends' music questions, they will recognize the name Marlais when I say it's one of my favorite acts.