By Amanda Norqvist
Capturing a time that was severely emotional on both ends of the spectrum, Latvian artist Mayten recently released an EP exploring and portraying the roller coaster of both becoming a father, and losing his own father to suicide. The Seattle-based artist, producer, DJ and live radio show host has self-released an album and several singles in the deep house/ambient experimental music genre, but decided to release Somebody Walked This Path Before via Straight Up!
The EP starts off with a perfect introduction to Mayten’s sound – Unraveled is an otherworldly, multi-layered dream, where the artist blends intriguing sounds and loops. I am instantly enveloped by the utterly charming electronic ambience, and follow easily along with the soft swoops of the track. There are no sudden jumps, no whiplash – just a gorgeous, gentle track to really sway you into the right mood.
Transformative provides a clever progression, bringing some subtle rhythmic from the intro track and then transforming it into a whole different track. With more intense beats and a first sense of urgent build-up, the track takes another turn and reels it back in. This intriguing (non)movement ironically keeps me on my toes – it doesn’t go where I expect it to and so it demands an attentive ear. I could so easily miss the subtle way Mayten mixes unexpected genres into the ambience, then returning back to certain loops and melodies, only to branch off again.
The EP ends with two tracks that lean more towards a house/techno sound, with Deprive Us introducing an experimentation with whimsical, unorthodox beats, while still building layer upon layer of new dimensions and sounds – and again scaling back, discovering a new path and following that for a little while. No rush, no panic – it really is like following along on an emotional journey, swinging back and forth between curious joy and frantic despair. What Matters provides a darker sound, with that same beautiful softness from before, contrasting the tough rigidity of the beats. This track too follows the same format of expanding ever so slightly only to drop back into the gentle and explorative, and then building back up to the multi-dimensionality that really has been evident throughout this whole EP.
Overall, Somebody Walked This Path Before is a beautiful, well-crafted EP where Mayten has found a perfectly balanced mixture of intrigue and ease – it can without a doubt be used as a backdrop and a mood setter, but is equally deserving of a wholehearted, attentive listen – and I strongly urge you to give it just that.