Maenda – They Say The Sun Is Dying

 Maenda – They Say The Sun Is Dying

Maenda – They Say The Sun Is Dying – Album Sampler/Singles Review

Sign me up for more of this!  Maenda has been nothing but a pleasure to listen to this week.  A solo-project brought to you by the magnificent musical mind of Matthew Op ‘t Eijnde…I’m tellin’ ya, this dude has got some absolutely stellar ideas.  As I pushed play on this debut album, and it started up with a single that was previously released back in 2022 called “Let Go,” I’m not sure I can put it any more clearly than to say I instantly knew we’d be on solid ground here with this whole record.  A stunningly well thought-out piece of music right off the drop, “Let Go” is straight up magnificent to listen to.  From the sonic depth in the production and robust definition of its low end, to the imaginative waves of sound that glide along the surface – Maenda made it crystal clear immediately that this would be music I’d be raving about.  I LOVE great Trip Hop y’all…it’s a genre that I truly wish I found in my inbox and on my playlists every day, but the reality is, it’s a rarer style of music found in our independent scene.  It takes a ton of work to put tracks like “Let Go” together, but beyond all that, you’ve gotta have genuinely new concepts, ideas, themes, techniques…it’s tough music to make convincingly, but Maenda instantly reveals the kind of magic we’re looking for.  As tight as tight can be – “Let Go” is practically overwhelming when you consider how amazing it really sounds and the professional level of execution.  An exploratory odyssey that’s relentlessly interesting and engages the senses, “Let Go” is a master-class on how to make mysterious sound beautiful…it’s brilliantly enticing on every level & an excellent gateway into They Say The Sun Is Dying.  Now let me fill you in on the rest of what I heard in this set…

Keep in mind, while I’m here to tell ya about some of the specific highlights that have been sent my way, rest assured, I’ve listened to this entire album and I wouldn’t recommend skipping past anything.  “Time Stood Still” for example, is another stellar cut, which actually serves as the real introduction to Maenda’s album in a way, considering that it’s the first truly new track his longtime fans would have heard after having experienced “Let Go” a couple years prior to the album’s official release.  And in some ways, I could even make an argument that “Time Stood Still” is a bit more close to my own personal taste – I really enjoyed it.  “Breathless Descend” is the next track I had on my list here though…which is one of the album’s longer tunes, clocking in at just over six-minutes in length.  Ultimately, I think you’ll find that no matter which track you click on, you’ll discover quality material.  “Breathless Descend” incorporates vocals, which goes on to give this track a bit more of a New Wave-meets-Post Punk type of sound to it – you know, think along the lines of Depeche Mode and its many derivatives…something along those lines.  In relation to how things began with “Let Go,” you’ll find a highly cinematic element to the sound you’ll hear, tremendous attention to detail, and a genuinely entertaining tune all-around.  It’s lengthy – I don’t think that’s necessarily something that works to this particular song’s advantage, but I’m not necessarily opposed to it either.  It’s theoretically possible that there’s a tighter version of “Breathless Descend” to be made that would be somewhere around the four or five minute mark instead, but yeah…I think what you’ll find about Maenda is that there’s a whole lot of storytelling going on in this music whether there are words in any given tune, or not.  These are sonic journeys…and with respect to that, I think it’s only fair that we’re all prepared to buckle up and take the ride, you feel me?  I think the main thing I felt like I ended up questioning more was whether or not the vocals really ended up enhancing this experience, or if this might have been better suited with a similar DNA as “Let Go” had in using them more sparingly.  I never really came to a conclusion one way or the other personally…sometimes I felt like they were a good fit and served the song well…I really like how they’re layered and what’s happening in the backing layers perhaps even more-so than what we hear most prevalently in the lead.  In any event, I still found that “Breathless Descend” was highly interesting to the ears & I’m confident that listeners will dig it too.

What’s bizarre in this job of mine, is when you get an album sampler, and the lineup of songs that I’m supposed to review doesn’t include the actual title-track.  Like…those are supposed to be the real centerpiece, aren’t they?  Someone get me in touch with Maenda’s PR firm, will ya?  They need work.  Anyhow…”They Say The Sun Is Dying” is a solid tune as well…again, listening to music is always a matter of personal preferences somewhat…so far, I’m actually quite partial to the dedicated instrumental tunes like this title-track and “Time Stood Still,” but someone out there feels like it’s the surrounding tracks I’m supposed to be paying closest attention to, like “Into The Abyss.”  Ultimately, I get it – for the most part, I’ve got longer & more involved tracks on my list here…we in the business call that the ol’ bang for your buck.  “Into The Abyss” is a good tune…but it takes a while to get to the meat of this one, in my opinion.  As you wander through about 1:45 of its intro, it’s not really until after that point where I felt like this song found its way from good to great.  I do think there’s more of a spotlight being placed on the vocal element than might be needed…I enjoy the trance-like, hypnotic and mesmerizing aspects of what we hear with respect to what’s coming from the microphone, but it’s the music that remains outright fascinating in each and every tune.  Again, not everyone is going to feel the way that I do…but c’mon y’all – you can’t get to the 4:20-ish spot on “Into The Abyss” and convince me that doesn’t completely steal the show!  The finale of this track is straight-up award-worthy in my opinion…it takes some time for this tale to fully unfold, but once you’re in the thick of the most intense moments of “Into The Abyss,” I swear you’ll never want it to end.  There’s a lot of craft in a track like this one…Maenda isn’t afraid to take his time, and comes out with a wonderfully compelling adventure on “Into The Abyss.”

There’s a very good chance that “Blue Forevers” would be up there with my favorites in the set, but you’ll never know for sure, because we’re moving right on to “Winter In Your Eyes” next!  What a burn!  I tell ya…these album samplers are always a strange experience to review, because you end up actually getting the interpretation of what a record’s best cuts are implied to be, as opposed to organically finding out what connects to you naturally.  Anyhow.  You get the point.  “Blue Forevers” is a quality tune…I don’t really think Maenda creates anything other than quality tunes based on all that I’ve heard.  Like anything else, we all have our favorites.  I dig the depth in the music of “Winter In Your Eyes” – it’s straight up extraordinary, and without question, some of the best you’ll find on this album.  Maenda enlists Vocal Life Of A Kelly to sing the lead on “Winter In Your Eyes,” who ends up bringing this like…I don’t know how else to describe it, but she’s got this like…intensity and drama to her voice that makes her sound somewhat like a female version of Maynard Keenan in a way.  Obviously, that’s an incredible compliment that I wouldn’t just hand out lightly – she’s clearly got a remarkable voice.  I’ll be honest with ya though…she seems to fit here well enough – I don’t know that I’ve been completely convinced yet that the music of Maenda wouldn’t be better served as an all-instrumental type of Trip-Hop.  Anytime you’ve got vocals going on, that’s where the ears of listeners naturally get drawn to…and the performance that Vocal Life Of A Kelly brings to “Winter In Your Eyes” certainly deserves both attention and accolades…I suppose my point is that I wouldn’t want anyone out there to possibly miss the outright stunning production that Maenda brings to his music.  There’s risk in taking the focus away from that of course, but at the same time, it’s realistic to have different goals for different songs.  Ultimately, they collaborate to create an immaculately artistic experience and powerfully moving, spiritual song that hits the mark…I’d never take any points away from what they’ve created together, but yeah, I’d definitely hope that listeners are able to recognize the stellar contributions that they each make as individuals too.

I loved how “An Impossible Glimpse” was able to carry on right from where “Winter In Your Eyes” left off in such a fluid and logical way…it’s an excellent short cut in the lineup and a perfect fit where it appears.  “You Will Never See Me Again” is…well…I suppose it’s either a threat or a promise – I don’t know which, I’ve only just crossed paths with Maenda for the first time here.  For the record though, I’ve never seen him to begin with, I’ve only heard him on this album…so there’s really no stress on my end with respect to the title of this song or the meaning behind it.  Anyhow – here’s what’s real…on a debut album that is stocked and loaded with exceptional material & has been from the moment that I’ve pushed play – I’d probably be inclined to tell ya that “You Will Never See Me Again” is my true favorite of the bunch.  This is where the Trip Hop realm most notably crosses over with the Post Punk world, and the results are nothing short of spellbinding.  Hearing this track surge into the next level as it crosses the three-minute mark is freakishly exquisite y’all…I’ve heard some excellent tunes on They Say The Sun Is Dying so far, but this would be my number one choice based on everything I’ve heard.  It’d be between this and “Let Go,” which still resonates through being such a potently imaginative first impression.  If we’re talking about the kind of songs you’d regularly find on my own personal playlists though, I think I’ve gotta recognize that “You Will Never See Me Again” is completely my kind of jam.  As much as I love the way this track surges into its finale and concludes, it’s the way that it moves throughout the beginning with such a sleek design that continually impresses my ears the most every time I listen to it.

At nearly seven and a half-minutes in length, and eighty seconds longer than the next longest track on the album, “The Quiet Dead” is clearly one of Maenda’s most ambitious endeavors.  The final cut on They Say The Sun Is Dying…it builds slowly, and eventually incorporates vocals into the mix as many of these tracks have.  While I’d never be the guy to say directly that the vocals necessarily take anything away from any of the tracks on this album, even by the end I still felt like I questioned whether or not they were necessary or enhanced any of the songs on this record.  I like the idea, and I support that – but I never felt like I’d be coming back to They Say The Sun Is Dying for what it offers from the vocal department.  If we’re talking about the music, believe me, it’s a whole other story – I’d listen to anything by Maenda in that regard.  I also think the dude makes a solid argument on behalf of his Spoken Word potential too with what you’ll hear on “The Quiet Dead” as he speaks in his whispered, hushed tones before the music expands to shift towards its radiant finale.  The real bottom line for me, is that Maenda has displayed an astounding level of creativity, imagination, and skill.  Regardless of how I felt about any song along the way, which is obviously extremely positive in the majority of cases we’ve talked about here – I’d listen to anything this dude comes up with, because the uniqueness you’ll find in Maenda’s music is practically second to none, and frankly, damn near unheard of in the context of a debut album.  So as I like to say around these pages of ours from time to time, if THIS is where everything starts for an artist like Matthew, one can only imagine how far he’ll go as he continues to excel throughout the years to follow.  Dude’s got an ear for sound that you simply can’t teach…he feels music on a different level than most folks will ever be lucky enough to – and I basically already can’t wait for whatever he’ll come up with next.  “The Quiet Dead” was a conclusive ending to an exciting and innovative experience with Maenda that I won’t forget anytime soon…this is music that will live on my playlists for years to follow.

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