Maya Jane Coles, Comfort

Sharon O'Connell

By Sharon O'Connell

on 06.27.13 in Reviews

The scope of young producer and DJ Maya Jane Coles’s achievements is impressive enough to induce an inferiority complex in even the most capable mortal. The 25-year-old began making music when she was 15 and wrote, produced, engineered and mixed her debut album at her London home studio. She also stepped up to the vocal mic, designed the artwork and is issuing it on her own label. She’s also remixed the likes of Florence and the Machine, Tricky and Little Dragon and has released a compilation album as part of !K7′s acclaimed DJ Kicks series.

An impressive debut from a producer too accomplished to be described as “promising

Coles’s 10 years of writing and production experience shows. She may have started building hip-hop beats as a teen before moving into drum ‘n’ bass, but it was 2010′s “What They Say” that broke her current trademark style — deep, soulful housemarked with tech and dub inflections, and vocals pushed to the fore. Her grasp of song structure is key and Coles has a haunting, darkly tender voice, which is heavily reverbed to fine effect on “Stranger” and (especially) “Easier to Hide,” where it both grounds and warms a compellingly choppy rhythm and chilly, textured electronics. Guests including Tricky, Miss Kittin, Nadine Shah and Kim Ann Foxman (of Hercules and Love Affair) are an equally fine vocal fit for the album’s ambience.

If there’s a parenthetical qualifier here, it’s in the somewhat pedestrian, trip-hop beats that underpin “Fall from Grace,” with its fussy multi-tracking of Alpines’s vocal. But that’s to nitpick in a set that features “Blame” (which suggests The xx, given the half-step wobble treatment), and divinely hushed, Morricone-toned closer “Come Home.” Comfort is a highly impressive debut from a producer already too accomplished to be described as “promising.”