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Halo Maud

Here comes something. What’s that sound?

It’s a new record by Halo Maud. Called Celebrate, it more than lives up to its name.

The opening title track like a lo-fi broadcast from a nearby radio before opening out into a glorious cacophony of bass and discordant guitar. By the time the track reaches its middle section, its as if curtains have been pulled back to reveal a psychedelic party kicking off in your back garden. It’s obvious that you’re invited, you just need to bring an open mind.

“The title song draws a curved line between a moment of introspection and a group of women dancing in the round. Many things happen while in a collective trance. We are cleansed, we commune, we are reborn. But this awakening can also be a bit violent for the body, which is why the song needed something explosive, something exciting and brutal to cut off “la saudade” (a deep longing for something that is absent). The main guitar riff I used to as a base to construct this song came to me out of the blue one day. My guitar (I only have one) is a ’60s Silvertone. It is my favorite instrument. I have been playing it for almost a decade without ever getting tired of it. With its constantly evolving effects pedal board, it never ceases to surprise and inspire me.”

For multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Halo Maud (previously known as Maud Nadal), the title of both song and album reflect from her natural reactions to the creation of the music itself.

“For me, music contains what words cannot. It is its power to shape these things, and it’s what I hope to find while taking random bits, here and there, from the pitch of each note, their texture, their timbres, massaging and mixing them together until the sound resembles what is inside me. When everything fits together well the words settle in with the music to spread their clues. That’s when the song is ready. A bouquet more and it’s an album. I called it “Celebrate” because I danced a lot while creating it. I now feel that I can release it into the air. I hope that it will alight in your hands and ears, keep you company and resonate within you through multiple waves.”

Those multiple waves are Celebrate’s twelve tracks. Collectively, they offer a seamless mix of French and English; analogue electronics, scratchy guitars and tumbling drums; dream pop, woozy Yé-Yé and 1960s and 2020s psychedelia. Recorded between Paris and Los Angeles, it’s a glorious mix that has the ability to leave the listener blissfully disorientated, never more so than on the album’s lead single, Terres Infinies.

An almighty blast of baroque psych-pop that’s equal parts Imperial phase Stereolab-esque avant pop and Lonerism-era Tame Impala, the track was produced by Maud with Greg Saunier (Deerhoof). Inspired by a Soviet sci-fi classic, it comes with a madly catchy, wordless chorus that will loop round in your head from the very first time you hear it.

“A friend suggested that I see the film, Stalker, by Tarkovski. The general ambience haunted me for some time. Finally, I began to have a recurrent vision of a dried up and deserted landscape that I had to traverse, without looking back, to find fertile lands. Then I realized this wasn’t too far from the actual state of affairs. I needed to cultivate a sense of humour about it. Simply put, turn this vision upside down. I imagined a place where we could drink directly from the clouds and read our futures in the trees, which is where this song came from. I produced it, along with a few others on the album, in collaboration with Greg Saunier. Discovering his group – Deerhoof – was one of the hugest musical shocks of my life. Working with him was a dream come true.”

Celebrate arrives a few months after For That Beautiful Feeling, the tenth album by The Chemical Brothers that Maud provided vocals for much of (including two of the lead singles – Live Again and Skipping Like A Stone with Beck, as well as the albums’ hazy title track). While that band’s influence might not be obvious on Celebrate, their dedication to pulling glorious psychedelic sounds out of the whatever instrumentation they find is very much in evidence. In the case of Iceberg – a cover of Fred Frith’s blissful Anthropocene hymn recorded with fellow French artist Flavien Berger – that’s instrumentation is mainly just a pair of human voices against a swirling beatless ambient backdrop. The result is utterly intoxicating.

“After I discovered the album Nous Autres by Rene Lussier and Fred Frith, I started recording my voice alone, rough, then constructed everything around it like a puzzle. Flute pieces pitched, displaced, interspersed. It was a solitary and chaotic process and extremely galvanizing. Then I dreamed, once again. This time I saw Flavien Berger in a kind of strange festival. I took it as a sign and wrote him the next day. And he told me, ‘I listened to it often. I heard it in my dreams.’”

An album of songs that blur language, and songs that visit people in dreams. Songs that draw a line between the mind expanding sounds of the first wave of global psychedelia and the music made by their modern day descendants. A record inspired by sci-fi as much as by a single guitar. So much to Celebrate. Time to join that party.

Words by Robin Turner

Press - Duncan Jordan: duncan@bellaunion.com

Releases

Celebrate
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Halo Maud - 'Pesnopoïka' EP
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'Je Suis Une île'
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Halo Maud 'Du Pouvoir'
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Live

Halo Maud