In the early 1990s, a team of linguists, engineers, anthropologists, and archaeologists were tasked with constructing a type of communication that could transcend time. How might we converse with future civilizations when language may evolve or dissolve entirely? The result yielded the design of spike fields; a strange construction of granite thorns bursting from the earth to alert its viewers to the deadly uninhabitability of nuclear waste disposal sites. For Maria BC (they/them), this state of temporal focus molds the wanderings on their second full length album Spike Field. How do we connect with the weathered shadow of our experience, while envisioning the self a few steps ahead of us? While their debut album Hyaline (2022, Father/Daughter) explored grief and anxiety through a series of character-led accounts, Spike Field recognizes that the past will continue to lurk below the surface until we decide to break through the soil.
Spike Field was recorded in the home of a family friend. The home featured an out-of-tune baby Steinway piano, complete with squeaky hammers and strange, sporadic sounds. The piano is sprinkled throughout the album, and features extensively on opener “Amber,” showcasing Maria BC’s looser, more extensive arrangements. The song flickers with electronic wonder, like a wave seeking out its station, before crashing into the angelic choral introduction of “Watcher”. Strings, plucked guitar and buzzing swells accompany their classically-trained mezzosoprano voice on “Return to Sender,” a song that focuses on the frustrations and turmoil of being unable to reach a loved one––both physically and emotionally. Spike Field reminds us that despite our best efforts to bury certain aspects of ourselves, they will always lurk beneath the surface. Instead of ignoring the seeds striving to break through, we can point to these places with a curious grace, concocting a language that transcends words to converse with our previous selves. Maria BC pieces together juxtaposing sonic landscapes and oscillating vocals to represent the thread of miscommunication, or the failure of words, that weaves throughout the album, transforming it into a distinct and ever-evolving sonic tongue. If we listen, we might find something new within ourselves.