Consuming with its lush instrumental electronic sound, Maru is a lovely EP from Universed, the Los Angeles-based project of Cristina Lord. “Harvey” is enjoyably representative, its nocturnal keys gradually evolving amidst spacey rhythms with hypnotic allure. “Milk Man” also stands out with its sporadic vocal pants and tempo shifts amidst the lush keys. The samples of children playing alongside the gentle synths concocts a soundscape reminiscent of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s electronic works. The EP’s self-titled track closes things with ample emotion, the contemplative and melancholic melodic flow leaving a strong impression as the impressive EP concludes.
Universed began in 2020 as “a pandemic hobby that quickly gained a life force of its own,” Lord says. “My previous work had mostly been as a classical composer, but I was starting to get more into exploring production and songwriting and decided to create a new brand to further develop and explore that side of myself.”
Lord describes the project’s sound as influenced by “hip-hop, lofi, and indie video game aesthetics.” For “Harvey” in particular, the inspiration arose from the game Stardew Valley. “The main synth I used throughout reminded me of some of the synth work in the game’s soundtrack, which inspired me to name this after one of the game’s NPCs. I then leaned into the “valley” aesthetic, and aimed for a spacious, dreamy-type reverb heavy landscape.”
Stream the Maru EP below: