FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
John Maus’ excellent new LP ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves’


 
Sometime Ariel Pink cohort, and an undoubted forefather of the chillwave phenomenon, John Maus has just released his new album We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves on the evergreen independent label Upset The Rhythm.

Isn’t it great when someone you really want to like is actually someone you really do like? Because if John Maus wasn’t as good as he actually is, I would be seriously pissed off that someone else had nicked my idea of doing for synth-pop what Portishead have done for spy soundtracks and torch songs. Even moreso than Ariel Pink, Nite Jewel or anyone else on the haunted-call-it-what-you-like-scene John Maus seriously ticks my boxes. For the uninitiated, it’s pretty simple. Maus takes synth-pop and squeezes it through a lo-fi, shoegazey filter until it comes out the other side dripping in an unreal atmosphere. Imagine OMD on 33rpm, or the soundtrack to a long forgotten 80s art film you saw on cable one night, multiply it to the power of a bongs-and-mushrooms trip, and you’re nearly there. It’s so spectral it’s as if you have dreamt it before. In fact maybe I didn’t invent this idea and it’s all just aural deja-vu.

Fans of Maus’ previous work won’t be disappointed with We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves. In it he retains all the core values of his last album, the officially awesome Love Is Real, but now the sound and the songs have had a wee tightening up. But don’t worry yourselves with thoughts of “sellout” - where before the lo-fi nature of the recordings created a dank haze the listener had to aurally peer through, this new, slightly more clean approach gives room for the individual parts to breath. Being able to distinguish them in the mix in no way detracts from their shimmering nature and actually adds to their power. There are less tracks than before, and the running time is just over half an hour. There is little over-indulgence here - and that is a very good thing. From the Upset The Rhythm website:

Pitiless Censors’ as an album displays a more delicate touch than its predecessors. “Hey Moon” is John’s first duet, performed with Molly Nilsson, who originally wrote the song. It’s a serene elegy that subtly weaves an impression of nocturnal loneliness and romantic dreams.

Closing track “Believer” is equally evocative with its bells, choral soaring and echoing sentiment. Of course, a John Maus album wouldn’t be a John Maus album without the same anthemic genius and dark humour that we’ve seen previously with songs like “Maniac” and “Rights For Gays” and this new album finds its succour in “Cop Killer”. The eerie waltz-time offspring of Body Count’s controversial 90s protest track, it is dystopian, bleak and ridiculous and, in short, classic Maus.

Unlike the last two albums, ‘Pitiless Censors’ looks towards the future in all its absurdity. It’s a record where promise takes the lead for the first time, providing a counterpoint to John’s default existential calling. The cover of “Pitiless Censors” depicts an airbrushed lighthouse, thrashed by wave after wave, bringing to mind Beckett’s quote “Unfathomable mind: now beacon, now sea.”

And one final thought -  the slightly grandiloquent title undoubtedly has a proper explanation (Maus is a philosophy professor) but maybe it’s also a subconscious pitch to have his music featured in the work of Adam Curtis? It’s definitely worth a shot, as the two would go beautifully together.

John Maus - “Believer” (available for free download here)
 

 
John Maus - “Cop Killer”
 

 
John Maus - “Matter Of Fact”
 

 
John Maus - “Keep Pushing On”
 

 
You can pre-order We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves on vinyl from Upset The Rhythm. For more info on John Maus,visit this page.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
|
06.21.2011
09:14 pm
|
Haunted Retro gets funky: Dam Funk meets Ariel Pink and Nite Jewel


 
Here’s a couple of free downloads that see a near-perfect meeting of minds between “haunted retro” acts Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and Nite Jewel, and king of the retro-boogie himself, Dam Funk. All of these acts have an obsession with synthesizers that come from a particular era (the late 70s to early 80s) and produce music that sounds like the kind of thing you’d find in you hip uncle’s garage on a dusty mixtape labelled “Memories of 1982”.

First up, Dam Funk has done a remix of the Haunted Graffiti track “Fright Night”, one of the stand outs on last year’s excellent Before Today album on 4AD Records. He adds even more lush synths and drum machine action that fits like a velvet glove. You can download the track here, via Pitchfork.

Secondly, about 18 months ago Dam Funk was brought together with Nite Jewel to co-produce an exclusive track for XLR8R magazine’s “Tune in an Afternoon” feature, another meeting of soulful synth acts very much on the same page. I only discovered the track, called “Am I Gonna Make It?” about 6 months ago, but it has been on heavy rotation on my MP3 player ever since, it’s that good. You can download it here, via XLR8R.

I was surprised at the negative reaction to Nite Jewel when I posted about them on DM before. What gives guys? Are they getting excessively pushed by the American press? Because they’re profile is pretty small in the UK. Or are they too hipster-seeming? I was surprised at the reaction, which seemed to go beyond mere dislike and into something darker. Either way, I genuinely like Nite Jewel and their spooked-out, lo-fi take on MOR soul-pop. Here is the short film made by XLR8R for the “Tune in an Afternoon” feature, which gives an insight into both artists’ production styles, plus a look around Jack Waterson’s Future Music store in LA - haters should watch this as it might just change your mind:
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
|
06.10.2011
11:53 am
|
MC’s top ten of 2010: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti ‘Before Today’
11.22.2010
12:35 am
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
I’m putting together my film and music ‘best of’ lists for 2010. Kicking it off with the number 10 best album of this year: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti’s Before Today.

L.A. popster Ariel Pink does a masterful job of evoking West Coast sixties vibrations, Zappaesque jazz/ funk grooves, psychedelic soul and 80’s new wave, bringing to mind everything from Shuggie Otis to The Strawberry Alarm Clock and Quicksilver Messenger Service to The Cure and Prince. Pink is an overachiever who hits his mark far more than he misses it. In Before Today, Pink has created a mini-epic that glides thru pop music history like Rollergirl on ecstasy. Beneath the glittering surface, there’s a density and complexity that constantly surprises and never bores. Pink is building castles in Brian Wilson’s sandbox.

In this track from Before Today, Ariel covers the Rockin’ Ramrods’ 1966 song ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
|
11.22.2010
12:35 am
|