I look back wistfully on all the arts previews I wrote just before the coronavirus shutdown, but none more so than the one about Maison Fauna, the new label, party unit, and lifestyle brand that, I suggested, was about to transform Durham’s electronic dance music nightlife.
But instead, sweat-aerosolizing dance parties in The Fruit’s basement transformed from mild-but-worth-it health hazard to no-freaking-joke health hazard. Smartly, the Maison crew refocused its energy on the label side of the enterprise.
On November 13, they’ll release Maison Fauna Field Guide I, a finely curated compilation of local and national artists working at the intersections of house, techno, and UK garage. Its lead single, Blursome’s “Last Thing I Remember Is Us,” officially drops tomorrow, but I’m chuffed to drop you into its anxious, exhilarating sound world today.
Blursome is the nom de doom of Lara Wehbie, a Portland-based, North Carolina-raised electronic producer whose moody but light-streaked compositions suggest an unsuspected midpoint between the vocal ambient of Julianna Barwick and the dusky garage of Burial.
“Last Thing I Remember Is Us” is a slow, inexorable exhalation. It begins with breaths and vocal snippets, threaded with a screw of dark, metallic drones. Then come the knocking drums and purring basses. Wehbie’s voice rises into bright cries, stark against the shadowy background, like the best of Brock van Wey. The track hovers like an apparition, molts transfixing vibes for a few minutes, and then vanishes as enigmatically as it came.
Blursome has been featured in the legendary mix series of London club fabric and released an album on the influential label Hotflush; she has an EP forthcoming on Maison Fauna. The world she inhabits is inherently social, and while I’m as tired as you are of writers acting like all the music coming out during the shutdown is about the shutdown, that title is just too poignant.
Maison Fauna Field Guide I will feature 19 tracks by 22 artists—many of whom have their own releases forthcoming on the label—including Treee City, Footrocket, and Daniels Jack. Though it will be available on all the streaming platforms, the vinyl, which will be distributed by Redeye, sounds choice. The double LP comes packed with goodies, such as themed flash sheets by tattoo artists and extended mixes.
The November release date coincides with Friday the 13th, quite deliberately. Maison Fauna’s brand involves a sort of mystical cool, and they say they collaborated with the artists “to create an illustration of a mythical beast that they identify with.” If I had to guess what Blursome’s was, I’d say the Minotaur. There’s something lurking in that maze.
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