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Maya Jane Coles

Easier To Hide

[I Am Me; 2012]

By ; January 10, 2013 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

It’d be an understatement to call English producer/DJ Maya Jane Coles’ rise to prominence meteoric. The descriptor has rightly been used ad nauseum in conjunction with Coles. The last two years saw the young Englishwoman obtaining a singular worldwide ubiquity, bouncing from one festival roster to the next, putting in work for the likes of Real Tone, Dogmatik, Hypercolour, and mixing one of the most notable DJ-Kicks of the last couple years. Her ultra-smooth and vibrant house sets have colored in her reputation as a titan behind the decks, but as a producer, the conversation isn’t quite as deafening despite a reliable run of singles and EPs since 2010 painting her as an artist with a strong sense of earworm-y melody and pop brevity.

Coles’ latest four track offering, Easier to Hide, comes at the heels of an announcement of an LP arriving sometime in 2013. It’s also the first document released on Coles’ own label, I Am Me. The EP itself sees the producer digging her heels in a little, with a focus on vocals, plush pop craft, and neatly deployed instrumentation, hopefully pointing the way to the incoming full-length. Easier to Hide isn’t a departure for Coles by any means, but the pop inclinations that littered her previous decidedly traditionalist house-leaning tracks get fleshed out and take precedent here. It’s an evolution that helps sophisticate the English producer’s sound.

Most of the EP treads a cushy, deep low end, cloaked bass lines worming through smokey shadows. Coles music doesn’t really qualify as “dark,” but there’s at least a nocturnal bent to Easier to Hide. The atmosphere is palpable, but it never bogs down the weave of liquid synth textures. Side A delivers two headlong, uptempo cuts, Cole’s hushed vocals center stage. “Easier to Hide” slides in with a silky bass line, bird sounds, and angelic voices, a spindly arpeggio accompanying Cole’s vocals as they roll like frothy clouds onto the track. “Over” is worth the price of admission on its own. The track centers around a staccato guitar pluck bouncing physically off the syncopated bass pulse latched to the road-ready 4/4. It breaks near the middle and ripples out in shuddering echoes before getting sucked back into the full throb again. Coles litters her tracks with minute little sound plays at their periphery, but she still manages to make the whole impossibly smooth in a rounded and tactile way.

“Run With the Wild” and “Back to Square One” both settle into more introverted moods. The latter has an almost Portishead feel with its cold and bruised lounge-y sonics, sixteenth note piano plunks, and humming anti-freeze melodies. The track builds across its whole running time too, its groaning bass thrum continually driving up the middle as the drums duck in and out. “Run With the Wild” is the only lacking track here. It’s the most straightforward thing on the EP and it’s up against some stiff competition, but Coles’ vocals are absent and it simply doesn’t develop its ideas as thoroughly as the three other cuts, following a pretty even through line for its length.

At this point there’s enough groundswell and goodwill behind Maya Jane Coles for all signs to point toward her upcoming LP as the make or break. It’s hard not to evaluate Easier to Hide without the specter of what’s to follow in mind and a lot of what’s here promises what’s coming is worth getting excited about, but what’s here is worth getting excited about as well. Coles is taking chances and they’re paying off.


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