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Monday, November 12, 2012

Maserati, 'Maserati VII'

Maserati_vii.jpg
Maserati's first album since Jerry Fuchs’ tragic elevator shaft fall builds on the late drummer's legacy. When Fuchs joined the Athens, GA quartet in 2005 he pushed Maserati away from their knotty post-rock instrumentals into a dance-oriented direction that still honored the group’s penchant for deep mutating structures. Mike Albanese has replaced Fuchs, but the aesthetic is still going strong, blending spacey rave-ilicious psychedelic jams and cascading club-ready rhythms. The drum-centric mix ensures the driving backbeat straddles the double-yellow line, but there’s a math rock intricacy to these spiraling guitar jams as keyboard washes cycle past like time-lapse images from Koyaanisqatsi.

There’s so much more tension in a Maserati song than most dance music. So while “The Eliminator” recalls classic big beat (think Chemical Brothers), there’s also a dark undercurrent that suggests a futuristic Spaghetti Western. Perhaps it’s just a sense of narrative. This may be why Maserati VII’s most successful tracks are the longest ones, notably 10 minute+ centerpiece “Abracadabrcacab” which doesn’t resemble Genesis as much as it does a heavily-processed Explosions in the Sky. There’s a slicing, chiming guitar-lead reminiscent of U2's the Edge circling a percussive Blue Man-ish center, shadowed by menacing synthetic storm clouds.

There’s a solid mix of moods, from the icy, ’80s minimalism underlying the group’s ode to Suicide’s Martin Rev throughout the goth-tinged psych rock of “Solar Exodus,” with its robotic Auto-Tune vocals the only such track on the disc. The album closes with “San Tropea,” a fitting encapsulation that seeks to transpose Pink Floyd to the shores of Ibiza. While the rhythms can feel as oppressive as a sauna over time, the intricacy, color, and melody in the arrangements make Maserati VII a mesmerizing and more entrancing listen than mere chill-out room fare. (Temporary Residence).

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