Mali Mali is a relatively new Auckland-based three-piece headed by self-described singer/songwriter Ben Tolich. After parting with his band early last year, Tolich decided to focus on music with a rawer, more authentic sound. He has since teamed up with bandmates Joel Greatbatch and Peter Reid to bring his vision alive. The release of their sophomore EP Brotherly proves that not only do Mali Mali encompass everything that Tolich initially envisioned for his musical direction, but that the boys have copious amounts of talent and the obvious potential to take Mali Mali as far as they dare.
Tolich counts Bon Iver (who, incidentally, happen to be personal heroes of mine) amongst his inspirations, and their persuasion throughout the EP is transparent, from vocal styling to instrumental composition. The production of the album is decidedly rough, but the style perfectly accompanies the intentionally unrefined sound of both Tolichís seductive vocals and the rough-and-tumble nature of the instruments.
The vocals of the opening track Your Glowing Skin are charming in that they seem to be fighting between an obvious British influence, and the Kiwi roots that Tolich cannot or will not shake. The highlight of the album for me is the second track Romanís Hawk. The song embodies just the right mix of defeat, triumph, sensitivity and recklessness to be beautiful.
The lyrics throughout the entire EP hark back to the emotionally charged post-punk days of the late 1970ís with lines like ďyou were so much nicer when your heart was broken/when your heart was torn apartĒ. Despite the fact that a lot of Mali Maliís musical influences are evident in every breath and every strum, there is something very fresh and prototypical in their music as well. Their seemingly innate talent of taking what they love from others and making it their own is to be respected just as much as their musical talent itself.
After parting ways with his original band in early 2010, Auckland based singer/songwriter Ben Tolich found new freedom in building songs and sounds on his own with an uninhibited state of mind. This impulse to create music with an honest and authentic mood grew alongside influence from artists such as The National, Sigur Růs and Bon Iver.
As a live band Mali Mali perform as a three-piece, not taking conventional roles and allowing members Joel Greatbatch and Peter Reid in whatever instrument they take their hands to, resulting in a minimal but lush sound.
Recorded and produced by David Parker at Little Monster studios and crafted with the help of fellow musicians Peter Reid, Andrew Madjar and Alex Freer (Artisan Guns), 'Brotherly' (Mali Mali's second EP) delivers stripped back and direct songs against a backdrop of contrasting atmosphere. Its subtle, slow burning and beautiful melodies colour your imagination with instinctive sensitivity, using hints and lures more than punches or shouts, to lasting effect.