Music Review: A Girl Name Mo

Trevor Faville has got back into the reviews game, writing for Muzic.net.nz . His first review is for A Girl Named Mo’s new album.


A Girl Named Mo - Album Review: Platonic/Romantic (Live At Bats)

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This is the first full outing from the Wellington ‘electronic R’n’B’ combo of Moana Ete, Slade Butler and Marcus Gurtner. Those familiar with the latest Fly My Pretties excursion will recognise the distinctive voice that sings Mud & Stardust, a version of which is presented here in quite a different frame.

The first thing that jumps out in this collection is the element of timbre. In New Zealand music, 'Post-Lorde' can mean that the character of sounds has become a key element in arranging-the more distinctive the better. This is a key concept here. Special care has been taken with instrumental sounds- rare is the drum or keyboard patch that is repeated from song to song- and added to this is a singer who really pays attention to how her voice actually sounds. Throughout vocalist Ete carefully shapes her notes and phrases with a range of techniques, some theatrical, some physical, some of her own creation, to powerful effect. Sonically, this album has instrumental and vocal character everywhere that you care to listen.

The second thing that jumps out is the rhythmic sensibility. This trio combines voice/keys/percussion in arrangements that have been developed with an interactive and supportive intent. In this respect the 'RnB' and 'electronic' tags do them no favours, as this is a musical environment where the way the instruments react/respond to each other is crucial… it doesn’t feel 'programmed' like electronica, nor does it rely on a 'backing' for hysterical vocal pyrotechnics either-which has become todays standard RnB cliché. Its definitely music made with a “sum-of-the-parts” methodology, and although this is certainly a vocal album, the musical settings rely very much on this idea-that the voice is part of the arrangement but not the point of the arrangement.

It's clever stuff, this. Not a lot of dynamic variation, and tempos tend towards the slower-so no ‘big noise’-but this is music that has attention to detail and that’s what makes it compelling- there’s nothing superfluous here. Every note has been placed ‘just so’. It’s a rewarding listen-take some time with it.


By Trevf  |  Originally published here 05 JAN 2017