Tuesday, June 21, 2011

John Maus 'We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves'

In 2006 John Maus started to fly solo after working alongside Ariel Pink and Gary War. Maus composes music in his hometown of Austin, Minnesota while studying towards a PhD in Political Science. Last summer I was introduced to John Maus's music at an unforgettable show at the Serpentine Pavillion space designed by Jean Nouvel. He'd been invited to play by Wolfgang Tillmans to coincide with the photographer's exhibition which featured shots of Maus. The backdrop of a vibrant red space was an apt setting for the show where Maus's charged performance instantly made a believer out of me.

'We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves' is John Maus' third full length album released on Upset the Rhythm in the UK and Domino in the US. John Maus thrives when working within self imposed limitations, utilizing simply drum machines and samples as tools to channel his voice during his explosive performances and recordings. The minimal set up anchors the work as its acts as taste of reality balancing out the world of fantasy he creates. Themes in Maus's work are instantly identifiable, songs about; TV Shows, weather and the solar system, sees John plucking ideas from our everyday life, flipping them on their head and finding harmony between life and magic.

Illuminating opener "Streetlight" sets the tone for the album with ethereal echo laden vocals and soaring angelic synths. The melody has an 80s quality to it like an old school video game -- reminds me of wondering what it'd be like to climb inside the TV screen and start shooting lazer beams (is it just me that wanted to do that as a kid?). Stand out track "Cop Killer" has an anthem feel to it much like 2006's "Rights For Gays" on LP 'Songs'. Elevating closer "Believer" rounds off the album on a high note as Maus adds some humor singing, "/Baby, you and me all across the world/Jackie Chan flashing all across the world/Hulk Hogan flashing all across the world/Baby lets go fly all across the world!". This song best displays how Maus works best with pushing boundaries through restrictions he sets himself. Using speakers, gadgets and microphones the synth pop troubadour falls into the rabbit hole whilst making the listener feel free to dive right in after him. It's strongly encouraged for anyone who gets the opportunity to, go and see him play. This is John Maus's finest album to date and is truly a joy to behold.

JOHN MAUS - Believer (free mp3) by Upset the Rhythm

Currently playing in the US DATES
The entire album is streaming for free here
Copies of the album can be found here

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