After two albums as The Mamaku Project, French New Zealanders Tui Mamaki and Monsieur E are now Mamaku, the assertive name amendment reflecting their more assured status. ‘Twigs of Gold’ follows ‘Karekare’ (2006) and 2008’s ‘Mal de Terre’, and took all those five years to create. The album’s style rests with what the duo call “groove-hop”, where the funky bass, beats and analogue synths underpin the songs, with trip hop’s layered aesthetics and hip hop’s spoken word settling over the rhythms and finding their happy place. It’s intriguing.
Maxime Berton’s jazz clarinet on the title track provides a fitting counterpoint to Mamaki’s floating vocals and syncopated drum and bass, while next up Mon Ami starts with layered and delicate guitar that develops with intensity to remind of trip hop’s major players, Portishead. Other highlights include the gypsy-style of Oya!, complete with accordion, French lyrics and John Ellis’s congas, which harks back to the duo’s earlier work, and album opener Berlin which pairs spoken word lyrics with brass from Finn Scholes and Oliver Emmit. This is fantastic – well-written, well-performed and layered with different sounds by a pair of artists not afraid to experiment with styles and textures.