Review: Mára – Here Behold Your Own

PHOTO BY AARON TURNER

SIGE.

There is a clear divide. Before and after. Much of the material on Here Behold Your Own captures the time prior to the birth of Faith Coloccia’s son, with its development and release tracking her journey into motherhood. The record itself is split into two sections – the eight parts of “A New Young Birth” and the six parts of “Sangre de Cristo” – although the transition is anything but clean. Vocal themes that originate in the former come swirling into the latter, recast in reversed keys or as a pale choral echo. The cascade of piano, rendered in brittle miniature by the lo-fidelity recording, appears on both sides of the boundary, moving in different melodic refrains but ultimately evoking the same candlelit ballet of light and dark. As if looking through a window at night, one is able to see both the landscape beyond the glass and the translucent figure of one’s own reflection.

These recurrences also illuminate the multiplicity of meaning Here Behold Your Own. The fourth part of “A New Young Birth”, an acapella lullaby, works with playful climbs and descents. When the organ plays conduit to the same melody on part six, a reverent sadness has soaked into the pattern. I trace the same harmonic outline in the reverse pianos that open “Sangre de Cristo” and the energy is more sombre still. One of Coloccia’s lyrics replays in my head as the motif undergoes its transfigurative reprise: “Surrender the weight that bound me to you”. Initially I hear this phrase as referring to how birth relieves the literal weight of pregnancy, but when the melody reappears under dimmer lighting, I hear the relinquishment of a former self; a shedding of elements that assume superfluity in the emergence of motherhood. Birth and loss are inextricably bound, and the arrival of a new identity must herald the obliteration of the old.

Yet despite these beautiful ambiguities in emotional hue, the record never shakes the sense of originating from the certainty of single spool. The transition between the two halves is only implied upon an otherwise seamless ribbon of tape. The second part of “Sangre de Cristo” consists purely of crackling interference, like the quiet devourment of a log fire while a storm rages beyond the window. It foregrounds the hiss that resides at the base of Here Behold Your Own, acting as a strand of continuous, resilient self that plays host to the ricochet of memory and the cyclical resurgence of former identities. Amidst all of the collapse and reconstitution of form, with voices threaded back through themselves and guitars crumbling into decay, the flicker of the cassette endures like an immutable, fundamental truth.