Marva Von Theo is a collaboration between two musicians with classical and jazz backgrounds, singer Marva Voulgari and composer Theo Foinidis. When Voulgari relocated from Vienna to Athens (where Foinidis was based) their creative efforts intensified and they released their debut album, Dream Within a Dream, in 2018. Eschewing any obvious reference to their classical and jazz roots, the pair create dark electronic pop music. Their second album, Afterglow, will be released in February 2021 and “Ruins” is the third single to be released in advance of the full-length record.
According to Voulgari, “Ruins” is about the idea that “however far one may try to run, he will always have to face the same old mistakes, the same ‘ruins’.” The mood of the piece is fittingly melancholic and introspective for the theme, replete with an ominous synth bass groove and brooding pads and washes. The song is very strong and the catchy chorus with its harmony backing vocals recalls classic 80s dark pop such as The Eurhythmics and Kate Bush. Voulgari’s voice is gracefully delicate as it soars effortlessly across the contours of the track. The arrangement and production (handled by Foinidis) are exemplary. Each subtle synth part is timed perfectly to interweave with and build upon the previous parts so that each section rises and falls just as it needs to in order to support the song’s progression. The mix is absolutely pristine, with everything afforded the space and clarity it needs. Of particular note is the synth drum beat which, in spite of using a driving four-to-the-floor rhythm complete with 80s-style synth handclaps, still manages to convey a subdued restraint befitting the seriousness of the song. Although there is nothing obviously classical about this arrangement, the attention to detail and expert use of harmony and texture undoubtedly stem from the band members’ training and musical mastery.
“Ruins” is accompanied by a music video directed by John Karabelas and featuring the band and four dancers in a dark, minimalistic and claustrophobic setting. Blue-grey tones are punctured occasionally by flashing strobes as the dancers move in dynamic but sombre formations. Voulgari is the focus of most of the shots, moving sensually in various extravagant costumes as she sings directly to the camera. It’s a captivating piece that fittingly complements the song.
With “Ruins” Marva Von Theo show us a peak behind the door into the world of what Afterglow will offer. Those who enjoy serious, moody, danceable, dark pop music will greatly appreciate this single and, no doubt, the album to follow next year.
“Ruins” is available now via Shades of Sound / Wave Records and can be streamed or downloaded from most major platforms.