Cyclic Selects: Maria Moles


Maria Moles is a drummer based in Melbourne. She has worked with the likes of The Australian Art Orchestra, Anthony Pateras, Jim Denley, Speak Percussion, Jon Rose, Lucas Abela, Krakatau, Andrea Keller, Dave Brown, Jenny Barnes, Scott Tinkler, James Rushford, Ernie Althoff, and The Splinter Orchestra.

She is currently the drummer for bands/artists Jaala, Ajak Kwai, Jonnine (HTRK), Doroth, and Francis Plagne, and has previously drummed for Mildlife, Jess Ribeiro, Evelyn Morris, On Diamond, Horatio Luna, and JK Group. Her solo work draws upon ideas from the Kulintang music of the Philippines and contemporary electronic production to weave hypnotic webs from layers of unmetered pulse that slowly undergo subtle textural transformations. It’s pretty mesmirising stuff. Her latest work For Leolanda was created during lockdown 2020 and features synthesizer, percussion, tape loops, and drum kit in really unique and powerful combinations. It’s compelling music, almost ritualistic in parts, imbued with numerous diverse influences. With so much going on we were pretty excited to take the opportunity to ask Maria about the music that moves her.

Les Filles de Illighadad – Achibaba
This music is so beautiful and has so much emotion behind it I feel like I could cry listening to it. The whole album was recorded in the air of the desert in rural Niger, and there is something magical about the energy that was captured in the recording. The guitar playing and vocal lines are incredible. It feels very joyous and pure and trancelike.

Steve Reich – Drumming
My older brother used to introduce me to a lot of new music when I was between the age of around 10 to my late-teens. Steve Reich was a composer whose albums he would play on repeat. I remember listening as a 12-year-old and it having an effect on me in a way that other music didn’t have. I remember listening to it on a disc-man while walking around the suburban streets of Launceston. I was drawn into the layered rhythms that would gradually develop through slight displacements and variations over time. I didn’t end up playing the drum kit until four years later, when I was 16, but I do not doubt that this album has influenced the way I play and compose on the drum kit.

Pauline Oliveros – Horse Sings from Cloud
I enjoy how meditative this is. There is something very raw and primal about it. When listening, I feel like I am there gazing at the mountain Pauline Oliveros is playing underneath during the recording.

Radiohead – Airbag
I know it’s not very cool to like Radiohead nowadays, but I couldn’t have a list of 10 albums that have shaped me without including one of theirs, as they are the first band I became obsessed with as a teenager. While other girls in Launceston were fanning over Justin or Leo, my first teenage fan crush was Jonny Greenwood. I’ve never been able to choose a favourite album, but I think this is my favourite song. I have a very fond memory of the moment I got my driver’s license, inserting my ‘OK Computer’ CD into my Ford Laser CD player and listening to Airbag, grinning from ear to ear. I don’t listen to Radiohead very much at all these days, but every time I listen to this track, it fills me with nostalgia.

Alice Coltrane – Blue Nile
One of my favourites. Soulful, spiritual, deep groove. I love the harmony of the floaty melody that is played on the flute. Alice Coltrane was a genius.

The Necks – Open
A friend introduced me to the music of The Necks in the early 2000s. I fell in love with their first album ‘Sex’ and have listened to all their releases since. They are the definition of the perfect band; they each have an individual voice as masterful improvisers, but together they create something exceptional. Their voices come together beautifully. Their music is honest and pure and feels like it was never intended to be played to an audience. ‘Open’ is one of my favourites because of how meditative and warm it is, right from the beginning featuring tones from Tony Buck’s monochord. The whole album draws the listener into a dreamy sound world.

740 – Mi
You know those tracks you hear, and it instantly feels like it connects to you so strongly that you have to keep listening over and over again? That’s how I felt when I first heard ‘Mi’ in a record store in London, so I asked the person at the desk to show me who it was, and it was a Japanese artist named ’74O’ who I hadn’t heard of before. I played the album every day after buying it. This is one of those albums I don’t know how it isn’t more popular – it’s so uplifting, playful, exciting. Otherworldly dub grooves and warm and rich sparkly sounds. Very inspiring and powerful stuff.

Jon Hassell – Power Spot
The last time I listened to this track was on headphones, and I was just blown away by how beautiful it is. I love how Hassel combines pulsing percussion, floaty ambient synths and harmonised trumpet in such a mesmerising way. The hypnotic rhythms played and soaring trumpet lines make for such an engaging and profound listening experience.

MANSAKA Tribal sounds of the Philippines
One of my dear friends introduced me to a website called Petite Planetes, a blog founded by two videographers that features ritualistic music from all around the world. This video struck a chord in me, and the rhythm played on the gong was a starting point for a composition on my latest album, which I titled ‘Mansaka’.

Donna Summer – State of Independence
Honestly, I just wanted to include a pop banger in this list. And out of all the bangers I like, this is my favourite. I play it when I want to listen to something familiar and feel good and dance. I played it this year on NYE when listening to the fireworks. So celebratory, funky, and uplifting. And the message is still important and relevant. A timeless masterpiece.

For Leolanda is out now via Room40. You can find it here.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.