Release Date: Nov 9, 2010
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Pyramid Of The Sun's Nov. 9 release date comes a year and one day after the tragic death of Maserati drummer Jerry Fuchs, who died after falling down a Williamsburg elevator shaft. It's been a year of re-evaluation and labored decisions for the members of the Athens, Ga., instrumental group. Most important, they had to decide whether or not they should remain a band and finish this album.
If someone played you the first track off of Maserati's 2002 album, The Language of Cities, and followed that with the first track off of their latest album, you'd probably think you just listened to two different bands. While there have been some personnel shifts-- the rhythm section on Pyramid of the Sun isn't the same one the group had eight years ago-- that only scratches the surface in what's changed with the group. It takes more than just plugging in a new guitarist and drummer to go from making serviceable instrumental music in a mathematical vein to talk-boxed space-bound synth-prog.
For several generations of punk-derived indie rock fans, the attitude toward late-70s stadium rock has been defined by Johnny Rotten’s famous Pink Floyd t-shirt with “I Hate” scrawled above the band’s name. The slickness of 70s Album-Oriented Rock is still out of fashion in indie music, but in 2007, the previously derivative post-rock band Maserati busted out with Inventions for the New Season, which incorporated a tremendous new rhythm section and a new preoccupation with the glossy, guitar-delay techniques of David Gilmour and The Edge — think Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” or every song by U2. Their new album — Pyramid of the Sun, the last with the late drummer Jerry Fuchs — continues their experimentation with that sound, and delivers reliably precise and driving post-rock instrumentals that merge the melodrama of post-rock with a retro prog-rock futurism.
Like fellow post-instrumental bands named after sports cars (Delorean and Trans Am, for instance), Maserati makes galloping instrumentals that are atmospheric but punchy. The band recorded Pyramid of the Sun over the course of 2009 and 2010, using vintage gear like Moog keyboards and Roland Space Echoes to give it an authentic space rock sound. A straight play, from start to end, the album thrives on the hypnotic rhythmic drive of Krautrockers like Neu!, with bulky synth riffs that make many of the songs sound like the intro to Van Halen’s version of "Dancing in the Streets," or Jan Hammer’s "Theme from Miami Vice," only beefed up, elongated, and entangled in guitar delays.
The latest from the ostensibly post-rock outfit Maserati is as driving as it needs to be: Pyramid of the Sun feels frenetic and energized. When it becomes physically tiring to listen, it’s hard to have too many complaints — or, for that matter, compliments. The journey is a bit strange, though. At times, Maserati splashes down in something more like disco than “traditional” post-rock (as traditional as post-rock could ever be, at least) would ever find itself close to, and Pyramid of the Sun just seems to get stranger as the album weaves through its sometimes monotonous patterns.
You know, I suspect that Maserati, the Athens, Georgia, four-piece who started their career playing dramatic instrumental post-rock, never really wanted to play instrumental post-rock at all. I don’t have personal experience with the band, and artistic direction changes happen for all sorts of reasons—for example, adding and subtracting personnel, which Maserati did. But consider that at the time of their debut LP, The Language of Cities, they were catching the style’s popularity at the top of the rainbow, in the moments before it turned from ripe to rot.
Maserati's new release is marred by last year's horrific and untimely passing of drummer Jerry Fuchs, who also played with !!!. Some of his last recordings appear here. [rssbreak] The Athens band attempts to fuse its trademark instrumental post-rock sound with elements of synth-pop and dance. But - despite some glowing reviews - the results are unfortunate.