Review: Manchester’s Maruja Scrape Together Jazz and Post-Rock on Debut EP ‘Knocknarea’

Manchester psych-jazz-punk quartet, Maruja, release their debut 4-track EP ‘Knocknarea’ coming March 17th, compiling their last three blistering singles, ‘Thunder’, ‘Blind Spot’, and ‘The Tinker’, with the addition of an ectopic new track, ‘Kakistocracy’.

Creaking to life with a volcanic melody that plays over the earth’s cold breath, ‘Kakistocracy’s (which is a state run by its least competent citizens, translated from ‘rule of the villains’) agitprop war cry erupts into a strafe of ululatory effusions where jazz and post-rock scrape together like sandpaper. It’s a sound that feels vital, and one so concerned with an immediate present where it’s impossible for any one moment-in-flux to become ossified, and where all that is solid melts into air

Maruja are pummelling a new exhausted emotion into the atmosphere: one of being fed up with singing about the same shit their idols had to and one that crackles with fearsome anticipation of divine retribution: When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. It’s rare to catch a band like this in their florescence, where the pulse of their sound is synchronised so perfectly with that of the culture. 

Born out of improvisation sessions, the EP is drenched in a sweaty obsession with rhythm’s demonic charge that culminates in a rebelliously structured barrage: dissonant riffs, shifting rhythms, darkly cryptic lyrics written with an amphetamine logic and a vortex of textures that can whipsaw between clockwork intricacy and pulverising noise. 

There is never a moment of hesitation, charging into the belly of the beast as the guitar’s slippery electric timbre catches on the snaking, discordant sax motifs which fill the air with the hungry wails of four Northern boys’ perverse humour in pushing their sound as far as it can go: to a Babel clamour like the moaning of some tortured hound, standing at the embouchure of Golden trumpets blowing Golden glory, clear and true, of a sublime crystalline flood of noise lighting the world and casting a shadow on the sun. The late, great American saxophonist Wayne Shorter once said, “for me, the word ‘jazz’ means, ‘I dare you’”. ‘Knocknarea’ stands as Maruja’s resounding response. 

‘Knocknarea’ is out 17.03.23.

We chat to Maruja in Issue Thirty-Nine. Pick up your copy here.

The new issue of So Young is out now. You can purchase in print here or read the digital edition below.