Courtesy of the artist
With its endlessly echoing vocals, Maria Minerva's "California Scheming" is enough to put listeners in a blissful daze.
With its endlessly echoing vocals, Maria Minerva's "California Scheming" is enough to put listeners in a blissful daze. Courtesy of the artist
Song: "California Scheming"
Artist: Maria Minerva
CD: Tallinn at Dawn
Welcome to the world of Estonian chillwave. Lo-fi "hypnagogic pop" has caught on in the past few years in the U.S. (thanks to bands like Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi), as well as in England, where entire outlets like Transparent Blog discuss its impact. But that unmistakable sound — grainy, dreamy, loopy — hadn't emerged from the Baltic region until now.
Maria Minerva, a.k.a. Maria Juur, offers a stranger take than usual, largely because of her beautiful and mysterious lead vocals. She uses reverb to create endlessly echoing, indiscernible vocals, but instead of sounding maddening, as it probably should, it's captivating. She repeats a melody with a killer hook over and over again, incorporating gloomy organ loops and a beat that succinctly clicks to the tick of a clock.
Still, it's easy to lose track of time when you're listening to "California Scheming": Like a psychologist giving hypnotherapy, Minerva puts susceptible listeners in a daze. Then she expands those exposed minds with spacey laser samples and other cosmic oddities, all of which are represented by random items like pineapples in the bizarre music video. If her lead is enticing enough to bring other Estonian chillwave acts to worldwide attention — the up-and-coming Ragatmika is already gaining traction — it should surprise no one.