Minotaur Shock

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Maritime Review

by Heather Phares

On Maritime, Minotaur Shock (aka David Edwards) wanted to combine his loves of the seaside and sleek '80s pop. On paper, this sounds like an almost impossible mix, but the actual results are equally playful and beautiful, and the best work from Edwards yet. While his numerous EPs and 2001 debut album, Chiff-Chaffs & Willow Warblers, had their moments, too often Edwards' music felt overly restrained and too indebted to IDM pioneers such as Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. Maritime, however, fairly sparkles with personality right from the start: "Muesli"'s whimsical clarinets give way to what sounds like a music box playing a sea shanty, while "(She's In) Drydock Now" pits a mellow but goofy guitar line against breezy '80s synths and flutes. While Minotaur Shock's new sound isn't quite as overtly childlike as that of Mum or the dearly departed Plone, a certain innocence and youthful quality flows through Maritime. "Vigo Bay," "Six Foolish Fishermen," and "Mistaken Tourist" are just a few of the album's charming, lighthearted peaks, all of which show that Edwards' decision to give into his pop leanings was probably the best thing that could happen to his music. Fortunately, though, he doesn't dumb down the intriguing twists and turns of his previous work to make Maritime catchier; "Hilly" is particularly complex, mixing whistling synths, metallic percussion, strummy acoustic guitars, and several glitchy breakdowns into a free-flowing yet subtle standout. The album's second half recalls Edwards' earlier, more subdued style, particularly on the slow-building "Twosley" and "Four Magpies," one of the album's most "folktronica" tracks. Still, these songs -- and Maritime as a whole -- have a much freer, more natural feel than anything Edwards had done before, and this buoyant vibe is contagious. Maritime might be a light, almost frothy album, but that's exactly where its power lies.

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