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mayo - Sad Violin Music (Unearthed Frequencies, 2022)

After years of perfecting the craft of programming, Amsterdam based DJ mayo serves up her excellent debut EP, with the music found within reflecting her wide reaching style and uncanny understanding of how varying genres converge with one another.

When the audial identity of productions feels informed very much so by the artist's music mixology behind the decks, then the mergence between two worlds feels all that more special, interconnected, purposeful. Producer and DJs create audial identities through their work, be it the records they spin or the beats that they make, and as forms of expression they can persist on differing wavelengths, as if to keep audiences on their toes, or they can be deeply entrenched within one another, serving as gateways of inspiration that move from one to the other. If the DJ in the person remains flexible, then their music begins to sound the same, if their selections morph, bend and expand, then the chords and drums they play start to do the same, reflecting an inner sense of what music means to them. It makes for compelling listening, as the music bought forth captures that free wheeling sense of anything goes, providing a life like energy to the music that feels indefinitely exciting. We remain invested in the music not just from a passive point of view but from within the grooves, finding the spaces inbetween that we feel reflect the energies and the momentums being represented. Its a wonderful notion to be involved within, an interconnected world that persists between the free flowingness of mixing cuts and the thought process behind composition, and the blurring of lines between the two forms of expression only makes for compulsive listening. Everything feels alive, enriched by a myriad of styles and essences that infuse so impeccably with one another, and this kind of conjuration takes time, practise and perhaps above all else, experimentation. Building on bombastic tastes often helps to craft an audial identity that feels so expansive yet so directed, so broad yet so minute and laser focused all at the same time. To ride along the wavelengths is a pleasure, and when productions come out that reflect the passions found within DJ sets, the story only gets more intriguing.

That is certainly the case with Amsterdam based DJ mayo, who graces the world with her debut EP that reflects both her attitudes to building sets and building music. mayo has been providing some serious vibes over the past few years, with her mixes online pointing to an individual who feels compelled by texture, tone and atmosphere, with the music fluidly moving from gloomy Jungle through to expansive EBM, Punk laden Electronics, wicked Techno and everything inbetween. The selection is reflective of her DIY, Punk orientated attitude, where the next song might hit you for six or continue the waves upwards and outwards in the most unexpected of directions, and this makes engaging with her DJ mixes an absolute joy. Whilst each mix seems to come forth with a differing scope in mind, one things for sure is that the points between A to B take in everything that mayo strives for, with each mix seemingly revealing something different about her endless array of musical influences. Some select mixes to check out include the Coastal Haze mix from 2020, the Dekmantel Connects mix from the same year, the RRFM May time mix from last year, the 'Floating Bastard' mix from earlier this year, and her most recent NTS show, which came out a couple of days ago. Listening to a mayo mix is transformative, her selection morphing and flexing the physical realms and merging them with the spiritual, the ethereal, the deep, dark and dubby, and that melting pot presents itself to us in such beautiful ways. Ever shifting, each hour builds up and reinforces an identity which always points forwards, but keeps both eyes looking outwards, ever hopeful of adding more into the mix. Be sure to check out any of her mixes on soundcloud, they're all wicked.

In the background, whilst we were all being mesmerised by her selections, mayo was busy at work perfecting her production outlays, with a rack of self-built modular synths helping to construct the framework of her debut EP, 'Sad Violin Music', which lands via the United Identities Imprint. The music found within is a gorgeous meander through sub frequencies, thick and heavy set wavelengths and winding, cascading sequences, a horizontal flow of material and energy that creates fluid forms around us that prioritise changing form above all else. EBM and Techno remain the most obvious stylings to emerge from the density, but there's plenty of twists and turns along the way that mesmerise, as we gain a window into a punk tinged electronic laden world, and we are all for it. mayo conveys her sound to the world, and does it sound expertly, and we reckon the wait for original productions was very much worth it - so lets take a dive already into this breathless, all encompassing record, that provides the feels on every level imaginable.....

Up first comes 'Dystopian Dialect', and this one begins with real intent. The bass line waivers between the heavy set kicks, as wicked textures slide off the edges of the notes on the sides of the pan, as glitch like noises cut through the ensemble like butter. As time passes the hats arrive to reinforce the rhythm, as the kicks move away to provide anticipation for things to come, and sure enough the kicks slam back into view, shifting the density with them as elements fall away, regroup and redefine themselves. The sequence crafts an ever rising crescendo that rises higher and higher, climaxing with a hazy intensity that then shifts back into the original sequence, our minds now really fixated. mayo then proceeds to conduct her ensemble with such ease, fluidly moving between a multitude of layers and structures as she crafts one moment to saviour after another, epically shifting from left to right, side to side. The drums that come into view around the half way mark really do remind us of her DJ mixes, where these beautiful rhythms simply land at the right moment, providing the audience with a wow as things kick on into next gear. The track continues to snake along, feeling its way out across the tundra that mayo has designated for it, and oh boy does it cover a fuckload of ground. Beautiful stuff. 'Aura Phase' comes next, and what begins as a tonal explosion quickly develops into something wonderful indeed. The kicks snap at the heels of a deep progressive bassline, as all manner of elements fill in the gaps, with the snares that arrive soon after finalising the electro notions that we anticipated. The next sequences are unreal, with mayo pushing her hardware to the limit with double time melodic progressions that shift across via LFO with a beautiful sense of momentum, as all the other elements rise up to match the new level of intensity. The track never sits still for one moment, never resting on its laurels, instead constantly keeping one eye on how things can evolve, how they can develop and push onwards, and as we pass the half way mark we see these notions get knocked up a notch. What a journey this one is.

To wrap things up, we have 'Human Engineering' , and this one begins with perhaps the softest intro so far, but we just know things around the corner will up the stakes significantly. The bass line and light percussive elements are joined by hats and additional melodic elements as time passes by, the ever evolving nature of the progression pointing always to a big moment, and that arrives around the 1:30 mark, as these beautiful striking stabs come to the fore to elevate proceedings into the stratosphere. Their placement and rhythm are utterly hypnotic, swirling and converging with a menace around the dancefloor, a slow and steady exploration of what is possible when you craft something with meticulousness. The sequence doubles up to provide some maximum feels, before descending into a textural sludge that is very well controlled, before picking itself up off the ground and taking us on one final journey through the sequence that will leave an indefinite reminder on us. A album to awake you from your January slumber, one that will shake your bones and ignite your mind, there's so much here to celebrate, and we hope the first of many pieces of excellence from the mind of mayo.

Interconnected worlds, the bridges between forms of expressionism, free flowing, fluid, controlled, but with a hint of the unexpected. DJ sets are like a series of stories that make up a larger tome, gripping us as we pass from page to page with the flow of words moving from one page to the next, eagerly preparing itself to take us in a new direction. When music is made with the same aspirations, then it feels like a beautiful mirroring of mixing tunes together, a meander through everything that the artist is trying to represent through their art. mayo has spent the past few years now building up a reputation as a serious selector with a real ear for moving audiences through the gears with her effortlessly likeable tunes, and with her debut EP we can fall in love with another aspect of her audial lexicon. Each track reveals itself but then goes one step further, evolving and nurturing a path for itself that always accommodates the listener, holding hands as we stand back and breath in the bass, the drums and the textures. It might only be January, but we have an EP here that will be spinning regularly wherever we go - hats off to mayo, and we cannot wait to hear what she might cook up next.

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