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Max LL – Anthropocene Review

A cello to signal the dawn of climate emergency.

What does Max LL sound like?

Usually a culturally infused composer, this release is a more cinematic soundtrack.

The review of Max LL – Anthropocene

To discuss Anthropocene is to mark the recent era of time when humans significantly impact the planet’s climate and ecosystems. It’s an unofficial term but feels like a much-needed one as the world has its hottest month on record. This is clearly weighing on Max LL’s mind as his new EP is an extension of a two-track soundtrack he wrote for a film exploring the relationship between humans and cities. Unlike most of Max LL’s work though, this soundtrack isn’t steeped in cultural instruments or influences, it is structured around a shuddering string motif.

That string motif is a breezy mist of cello that repeats across the first three tracks of the EP. In ‘Disruption’ it is mixed with electronics that seem to cut against the cello and stop it in its path. In ‘Exponential (Through the City)’ the cello itself starts to sound machine-like. The shuddering rhythm of the cello bow pull sounds haunted. As thundering electronica clatters in and joins the throb of the motif, what was organic becomes synthetic. It’s a very clever piece that I’d imagine would work well on film. The title track follows as a cello solo of the motif and it reminds me of Yo-Yo Ma’s Naqoyqatsi soundtrack. Deep, resonant, elegant but urgent, you can hear the turmoil in Sheila Hannigan’s performance. This then leaves the closing track ‘In all our complexity’ to do something totally different. This is a magical piano piece with warm bass synths hiding underneath. The felt-like piano is mixed with soft hammer clonks that allow the scales being played to sound like a magical wand wave.

Whilst it’s over in 12 minutes, most Max LL releases are short, sharp but pointed and this is no exception. ‘Anthropocene’ would appeal to most cinematic soundtrack lovers, cello enthusiasts and fans of artists like Nils Frahm. This is a different side to Max LL that we don’t see often as his globe-trotting releases often showcase culture and orchestration. He loses none of his charm by focusing on the cello first and foremost and the subtle electronics are emotively organised. Max LL continues to expand his excellent body of work I’ve come to look forward to immediately upon each release.

Recommended track: Exponential (Through the City)

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Max LL - Anthropocene



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