Maple Bee
Chasing Eva
2004
B



marketing is a curious monkey. The unlikeliest images are forcibly squeezed behind the retinas of untapped demographics by ghoulish suits, operating with the same joyless rationality as a PowerPoint balance sheet displaying yesterdays human organ sales with a smirking animated lung. If you happen to find yourself in Britain by some accident of birth, locate a nearby supermarket and wade through the carcinogenic seas of Sudan 1 Dye until you find some Princess Dreams Turkey Slices. Every little girl’s dream—to consume reprocessed turkey scrapings endorsed by a dodgy Barbie rip-off—has finally been realised. In dazzling pink. The Official Homeowner Bratz Doll With Crippling Mortgage Deal isn’t far away. You’re never too young to enter the world of mundane purchases.

Maple Bee can help us escape.

In between duties as a Medieval Babe and bassist for sister Katie-Jane’s band of funsters Queen Adreena, Melanie Garside has issued a double CD of solo material under her newly-adopted moniker. What results is about the same distance from Princess Dreams Turkey Slices as the moon is from my pocket. Although if anyone is going to convince me that Earth’s only natural satellite is synchronously rotating within the moleskin surrounds of trouserland, it could well be Maple Bee.

Chasing Eva is a journey underwater on a rocking horse, to an upside-down castle which pokes beneath the ocean floor and wears implausibly surrounding clouds like a charming hat. Inside the sleek walls of purest obsidian are a contorted maze of inverted corridors, elegant banqueting halls and squalid dungeons. Plant life flourishes; untended and wild, sprouting from apertures and crude ledges as snow silently falls indoors upon deftly woven carpets of unfathomable design. The steady ebb and flow of perspective causes bewilderment to the eye.

To achieve this diverting illusion Maple Bee make use of an intricate array of instrumentation, backed by curious looped beats that pulse and contract around each intimate tale of introspection or stately cry of defiance. Often reminiscent of the more personal moments from Tanya Donelly’s Belly, Melanie Garside whispers, emotes and drawls her way through each snippet of faerytale drama accompanied by gliding strings and a concise spiny of woodwind. Though stretching this whimsical pursuit across a double album does rather test our suspension of disbelief to the limit, and the inevitable mental composition of a hypothetical single disc version will no doubt take root in most enquiring minds after a few consecutive spins.

Yet whilst the spell remains binding, Chasing Eva captivates and entrances. Pulling the subconscious mind through make-believe worlds embedded in pure fantasy, hinting at childlike regression but staying well away from sickening sentimentality; a deranged cover of “Perhaps Perhaps” is tossed into the bubbling brew for good measure. The cauldron is now full. Drink deeply. Drift away.

You may even momentarily forget that nagging urge to restock your sandwich fillings.



Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2005-02-28
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