Artists evolve and grow. Most must do this for their own sanity, it seems. I feel like Mariana Semkina is in the middle of an evolution, and her new EP Disillusioned shows hints of this. The EP released for Patreon supporters already, but releases to the public on October 1st.
You may know Mariana as Marjana Semkina of Iamthemorning. Mariana is her solo stage name, so to speak. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, she hails from London now, I believe. She brings with her Vlad Avy on guitar, Grigoriy Losenkov on keys and bass, and Svetlana Shumkova on drums. This EP also features a string quartet of Semen Promoe and Marina Ryabova on violin, Alexander Shtabkin on viola, and Anatoli Vorontsov on cello.
With Iamthemorning, Mariana has always made melancholy music, typically driven by piano. With her solo work, the melancholy remains, and the string quartet seems to have taken the lead musically. I also feel like Mariana is getting darker in tone overall, as can be seen in the shadowy, Gothic promo images and mysterious cover. This is an evolution that I’ve honestly been hoping for. She once joked about doing some sort of black metal project, and, for some reason, that tone of pitch black seems suited to her style.
The EP has 5 songs, and it lasts about 15 minutes. If I’m being honest, tracks 2 and 4 are basically filler, as they are both extremely short and sung in other languages. I believe “Land Míns Föður” is Icelandic for “My Father’s Land”, and “Ne Hagyj Itt” is Hungarian for “Do Not Leave Me Here”. Both tracks are primarily vocal in nature and don’t last long, however beautiful they might be.
But I think the meat of this EP lies in the other tracks on purpose, and, if I’m being honest once again, this EP is meant to help fund a future album anyways, so you never know if these tracks will show up on another tracklist later. Anyways, the three songs are “Friend”, “Disillusioned”, and “The End”. “Friend” is the single with a striking, well-produced video that has been getting some buzz. The song itself heads down the path of darkness I’ve been hoping to hear from Mariana, hovering in a spectral, secretive, and subtle manner with organs and strings creating a stark, ominous, and maybe even macabre atmosphere. I love this song.
“Disillusioned” is great, too. This track is less stylized, but its chorus is solid and it grows on me each time. I love the tone of Mariana’s vocals on this song, especially. “The End” is obviously the closer, and is also the longest song of the EP. I really like this song with its slow burning method, and though it never truly erupts (not Mariana’s style of writing), I love the last few minutes where all of the instruments come together to support Mariana’s pining and eloquent voice.
I think this is a great EP: one that makes way for a second solo album, hopefully. Mariana sounds great, and her writing is becoming more mature and elusive, not to mention darker. And the “Friend” video will probably be one of the best this year, too. All in all, I’m impressed and I’m left wanting more.
Find Mariana Semkina online: