Six months following her debut EP Open Door on Dutch imprint Atomnation, Sky Civilian is set to release a sophomore EP, At the Seams, on November 8th. At the Seams is a stepping stone, from the lyrical, gentle, genre-agnostic electronica of Open Door, to Maggie’s own rounded and angelic take on acid-house. Her debut EP Open Door was “clean and angelic” according to Uproxx, “soothing, sweet, marvelously refreshing” by New Retro Wave, and “a glimpse into a kinder, more gentle future” by Queen City Sounds and Art. Her follow-up EP, At the Seams is a gleaming example of an artist on her way, a sonic Bildungsroman, if you will. A work of searching, and in many moments, finding.
The EP showcases six dance-floor-friendly, cross genre tracks, each with a signature sound. Opening track Don’t Call Me Back features salty lyrics, muted Rhodes atop gritty and distorted bongo loops. The second track, Smile, is the first hint at a more dance-floor focused future for Sky Civilian. Hers is hollow and melancholic, with drooping synths propped-up by a blunt kick and a de-facto acid riff.
The most sure-footed moment in the EP comes with the track Otherworld, which features fat loops, a sparkling acid backdrop and seraphic, beckoning vocals. This moment of levity is abruptly ended by Where is that Good Energy Lurking, with its caustic percussion and bed of crackling orchestral strings underneath clear-as-day brass. Closing track Lullaby is sweet but not sleepy, at 140 bmp, with swinging sawtooth synths, cowbells, and stuttering, confessional vocals.
Maggie’s cinematic, synth-heavy style emerged after a decade of orchestral French horn playing and classical studies. She combines this brass-inspired, synth-forward approach with her weightless, almost-whispered vocals, and dance-floor ready beats. The melding of influences present in her work make Maggie a fresh and promising new artist in the electronic music scene, an artist we hope to hear more from for many years to come.
This is about as seamless a suite of songs and moods as you're likely to hear.
The album feels self-propelled, so effortlessly does it move from track to track and style to style. It's Hopkins-like in its diverse fluidity.
Rarely is production this precise melded with performances that are equally so. Not only can these guys play, but they can think. There is real craft in the chordal structures that define the album's sense of narrative.
It's place is assured in my top ten albums of 2019. Michael Mueller