Iris Nova is a great new vocal electronica release from Mudville, the duo of producer Ben Rubin and vocalist & songwriter Marilyn Carino. If there’s a bar in the next David Lynch movie, you might find Mudville in it, playing one of their off-center songs.
The first thing you notice with Iris Nova is Carino’s amazing, quirky voice. It brings all sorts of great vocalists to mind, ranging from Joni Mitchell to Sarah Vaughn to Alison Goldfrapp to Billy Holiday. Carino doesn’t really sound like any of them, but she has a great way of wrapping her voice around a phrase to expose its sadness or sultriness.
The next thing you notice is Rubin’s clever arrangements, which start with melancholy jazzy vibes, but range from minimal electronica backings to lush orchestrated arrangements. He incorporates all sorts of soulful instruments, like bossa-nova style guitar, sampled strings, steel guitar, Wurlitzer electic piano and lots of downtempo/chillout effects treatments. There’s also a lot of surprising instrumentation choices, like timpani on the downtempo pop track Wonder Boy.
What’s not immediately obvious, though, is how well Mudville’s arrangement’s compliment Carino’s songs and vocals. Though the duo obviously knows their way around a huge variety of instruments, the playing is subtle and restrained throughout, focusing your attention on the singing and lyrics. Carino’s voice is also frequently treated with effects, giving each song a unique sound.
Hightlights of the CD include Eternity, which comes off as a sort of quirktronica Bond theme; the lovely Suba-esque samba Wicked; and the pensive late night jazz feel of Sado.
There’s a lot to like about Mudville’s new CD, Iris Nova. You can get a taste of their music with the free track Eternity, below, or via their site.
- Wonder Boy
- Spirits in the Material World
- The Spanish Gypsy
- This Hollywood Life