Maserati MaseratiPyramid Of The Sun
It might seem like a contradiction, but if there is one element that can define the spirit of “Pyramid of the Sun”, that element is precisely an absence: that of Maserati’s last drummer, Jerry Fuchs, who died in a domestic accident just a year ago now. Fuchs, one of the most gifted and imaginative musicians on the Brooklyn scene, had put his drumsticks at the service of such demanding bosses as LCD Soundsystem, !!!, The Juan Maclean, MSTRKRFT, Holy Ghost! or Massive Attack. Bands with which he often acted as a mercenary, whether to record albums or to tour, but which at other times committed him to the project; in the end, we are talking about people who understand rhythm as an essential part of their music, and who therefore need to involve the percussionist in the creative process.
Of all of these bands, Fuchs considered Maserati as the closest, even though the rehearsal hall was located rather far from New York: specifically in Athens, Georgia. Despite the distance, Fuchs felt like a member of the family and not just a hired gun, and not without reason, because before his arrival, Maserati was nothing more than post-rock as long-winded as it was bland, full of all of the tics of the genre. It had guitars that wove melodic spider webs, clouds of electricity that advanced parsimoniously, atmospheres with slightly oppressive shades, detailed, tangled instrumentation, and a worrying lack of new ideas. All of that changed with Fuchs’ arrival: for the third album, “Inventions for the New Season” (Temporary Residence, 2007), the band had already stopped cannibalising the 90’s Chicago legacy to look further backwards, towards the 70’s, towards krautrock and English progressive rock. This exercise was very revivalist and involved pillage (pillaging, as well, of such classic names as Kraftwerk, Neu!, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream or Hawkwind), but which worked because the ideas that the musicians were handling were very well stolen, and especially because the result was muscular and hypnotic, the promise of a live show that, as many chronicles confirm, was overwhelming.
So, after a more-than-promising split with his friends Zombi, Maserati started to work on what would end up being “Pyramid of the Sun” sporadically, an effort cut short by Fuchs’ sudden death. This was when the rest of the band decided to finish the album with the material that they had already recorded, as a sort of homage to their mate: completing the tracks that were missing, adding instruments and arrangements and trying to respect the original drums throughout the process. This way of working has allowed them to give shape to several notable songs, like that epic kosmische gallop, full of synthesisers that seem robbed from Tangerine Dream and guitars that have grown up in the shadow of Manuel Göttsching that is “Oaxaca”, or the muscular “They'll No More Suffer from Thirst” and “They'll No More Suffer from Hunger”, which recover the pulse of “Inventions for the New Season”. But you can also tell that songs like “Ruins”, derivative and schematic, are nothing more than notes of what could have been real space odysseys. Working models, improvisations captured so as not to lose the inspiration, but which never reached their definitive shape, and which should have therefore been left out of the album. The solution might possibly have been to release an EP or to complete the album with a song without rhythms, like the lovely introduction that is “Who Can Find the Beast?” In any case, the greatest care has gone into the closing song of the lot, “Bye M'friend, Goodbye”, which relaxes the hypnotic, obsessive tone that the band has tried to create in the other songs on the album, to let themselves be carried away by a motorik rock with roaring guitars, which reminds one of Neu! in ‘74, and which bids a grand farewell to Fuchs. Rest in peace.
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