Review: Sebastian Maria – L.L.


I wear L.L. like a headband. Sebastian Maria achieves a sound that stretches beyond the horizontal, with synthesisers held taut and curled around the back of my skull. It presses inward, too tight for comfort, with rhythms so immediately internalised that I mistake them for my own pulse. Perhaps this visceral proximity is only possible when one strips the “theatricalization” from music, as Maria puts it. Each of the randomly-generated track titles appear in quotes, thereby making their artifice explicit and holding meaning at arm’s length. In removing the mediation of narrative, which demands that music should be comprehended before it is fully felt, L.L. reaches me as a piping hot thwack: crushed samples, reggaeton stammers, slurping pianos, electronics as primary colour plastics. My powers of comprehension are trampled flat. Sound spews in unimpeded.

I struggle to recollect any specific moment from the song cycle once it comes to a close. Each moment vanquishes all trace of the one prior, as if the faculties of memory have been repurposed to bolster the powers of present tense perception. The brain bulges under shuddered bass lines, recordings of rainfall, pattering hand drums, flickering guitars, synthesisers like voltage surges. Rhythms are only ever fleeting, invariably contradicted by a pulse or rumble happening elsewhere. The liberation of sound from narrative means that L.L. doesn’t carry the impression, at least retrospectively, of being mapped upon the axis of time. While it draws from the maximalist production of modern pop, it sheds the need to unfurl patiently like a spoken sentence. The words arrive in one blinding moment, with L.L. manifesting as the centre of the crossroads where all vowels and consonants collide.