EP Review: MA NI TU – L’Étoile de Mer Again

L’Étoile Der Mer Again is the new experimental ‘soundtrack’ EP from London-based electronic folk composer Richard Beet aka MA NI TU.

By Graeme Smith

The EP was inspired by a 1928 film poem by Man Ray called L’Étoile Der Mer for which Richard decided to write a score. The result is a fractured work which melds a surprising range of styles together into one non-stop composition. There are five tracks on the EP but they cannot be seperated. Instead, they must be enjoyed as one continuous piece of music.

The first movement, Over, starts slow and sparse. Lonesome woodwinds play a haunting melody before handing over to chanting vocals. If it all feels a little traditional, there is a gradual shift. Space-age synths appear and there is an interlude of pure ambience before the cantering percussion and bass beats of track two Look Back Lover take the stage and it all starts to feel a little like French dance music circa 2000.

The introduced flow is drastically broken by the glitching, jumping 90 second interlude that is Santé before the dramatic You Do Not Dream gloriously sweeps in. It opens as if it’s the latest floor-filler from 3021 before relaxing into a meditative groove that combines traditional and futuristic elements. The pace climbs into cacophonous yet accessible funk pop.

The EP closes with the percussive If, Only / These Ways. It perhaps best encapsulates the “mer” part of the EP’s title. It feels like an underwater drum circle. I was reminded of some of Robert Miles’s more experimental music on Organik and his joint album with Trilok Gurtu.

In L’Étoile Der Mer Again Richard has created something entirely fresh. He has obstinately refused to stick to the script and that’s what I love about it. His more experimental interludes provoke thought, but the committed listener is also treated to dance sequences that can really get your body moving. Whatever style you prefer, you will certainly appreciate the journey on which you’re taken.

Though now based in London, Richard also has a local connection. He studied sound engineering at college in Leeds. It was his time at Goldsmiths University, though, that introduced him to sonic art and re-ignited his passion for making music. We’re all the richer for it.

Check out L’Étoile Der Mer Again by MA NI TU below.