Thursday, October 13, 2011

John Maus

I feel like what a lot of John Maus does flies under the radar.  Earlier this year I was heavily into his 2007 LP Love Is Real when, without any notice, I read on Drowned In Sound that he had released a new album.  I attribute this to two possible factors; either I just blatantly missed any press about the album, or his fan-base is limited to a very concise population.  Maus is kind of a cult figure, occupying a distinct following with his off-kilter tendencies (he may be the only artist I've heard of that is happy to see record stores disappearing).  Maus is also the creator of some very interesting music.  He's short spoken, rarely using lyrics and instead letting his insanely bass-heavy '80s synth melodies take over.  When he does sing, most of the time it's either drowned out in distortion or his deep, peculiar voice makes an important statement...a lot of the time in the most cryptic ways.  It's not radio friendly in the least, and would immediately turn off a large percentage of listeners.  Most people expect simple, identifiable, and upbeat rhythms - that's why those songs are on the radio, it's easy to pick up.  Maus, though, is a perfect example of how warranting an artist multiple listens is so crucial, because that's when you really start to see his magnificent musicianship.  This can really be seen this year's We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, where he really demonstrates his range.  At first listen, it may seem like Maus overdosed on cheap synth tricks, while in truth he touches upon a large spectrum of moods and melodies.  "Cop Killer" is dark and foreboding whereas "Matter Of Fact" is surprisingly blunt and playful.  Maus's brilliance really gets to show through on "Hey Moon" though, arguably the highlight of the album.  Driven by piano instead of bass, we also get great insight into his lyrical ability.  One of the most talkative songs I've heard from him, "Hey Moon" establishes a definitive atmosphere alongside creative symbolism.  Take a listen to it below, and to give you an idea about his '80s style, I have also posted "Head For the Country"...both from We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves.

Hey Moon

Head For the Country

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