Mörmaid – ‘Pearlescent Dark’

A wonderfully dizzying array of eclectic pop shows on Pearlescent Dark, the debut album from Oslo-based songwriter and producer Mörmaid. The project of Live Sollid impresses with a wide range of sounds, from the spacious introspection of the opening track to hyper-pop dazzling like “Wet Summer” and the subdued atmospherics within “Bury All.” Electronica, free jazz, and club-friendly bustling combine within an approachable pop-friendly mindset, embracing hooks within creative atmospheric assemblies.

Mörmaid describes the album as “about duality, ambivalence, doubt and fear.” She continues: “It spans from individual and relational experiences to more conceptual reflections. I explore the themes in many ways, both in the music itself, the production, the lyrics and the artwork. For a long time I’ve been fascinated with art that is beautiful and captivating and at the same time has a distorted and disturbing quality. This is something I hope comes across throughout the album.”

“Sea Lady” kicks off the album with atmospheric immersion; the vocals portray an awakening on the shore, in a state of yearning and awaiting “for him to come.” An illuminated whirring takes hold alongside the ghostly vocal lushness, which escalates gradually and in spine-chilling form. Spacey synths and string-laden grandiosity converge during the breathtaking conclusion, where the vocals are absent in favor of this affecting instrumentation. They re-emerge in charismatic, danceable form on the subsequent “Wet Summer,” exuding a hyper-pop spirit in its stutter-y vocal elements, brisk rhythms, and sugar-sweet vocal expression; the bass-y intensity upon the “am I just another mirror?” line is especially impactful. “Wet Summer” is an infectious, standout production, with shades of SOPHIE.

A delectably unsettling tonal shift shows on “Ehh,” in atmospheric contrast to the opener’s initial lushness and the caffeinated pop of “Wet Summer.” A caressing, dreamier vocal presence eventually emerges on “Ehh” with glimmering engrossment, as robotic-feeling vocal unease fascinates during the “off my feet,” drive. It’s quickly apparent on Pearlescent Dark that Mörmaid possesses an ability to maintain a consistently melodic intrigue, all within varying tonal spectrums — from dreamy pop slow-burns to hyper-active hookiness and more ominous haunts.

The throbbing bass intensity within “I’m Trying” melds with vocals aspiring to “work through the pain,” as the overall production intoxicates; this is another showcase in replay-inducing, climactic production — here reminding fondly of a more debonair twist on Röyksopp & Robyn collaborations; “Baby” struts a similarly enjoyable aesthetical familiarity. Elsewhere, the shifty percussive elements and sporadic synth effervescence build a more understated pop charm on “Bury All,” another testament to Mörmaid’s savvy production and dynamic vocal implementations.

“Toomuchalready” is also impressive in its dichotomy between serenely spacey electro-pop and ominous buzzing, building a climactic allure into a thrilling finale with pulsating synth envelopment, haunting vocal layers, and pounding percussion; the production is akin favorably to early Grimes. “Manicfest” concludes the release with a futuristic flair, moving from otherworldly vocal expressions into a drum-and-bass invigoration within dreamily serene textures; it’s a fitting, satiating send-off to an album that thoroughly succeeds in its inventive, tonally dynamic pop sound.

Pearlescent Dark releases on May 23rd, via Beat Palace Recordings.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

Send your music to [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.