Monday, January 17, 2011

Pyramid of the Sun - Maserati (#1, 2010)

Whoa. Dude. At the beginning of all this (#50), I said that "I welcome the renaissance of John Carpenter appreciation." Well here we are, and Pyramid of the Sun begins with "Who Can Find the Beast?" as introduction - a very Carpenterian synth-drone, with anguished talkbox/vocoder wails. Unexpected! Although maybe sort of a cousin to the "Join Us Mystic Sister" intro on their side of the Zombi split-LP (#2, 2009).

"Pyramid of the Sun" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

Maserati had at least two full songs they'd been playing live for awhile. "Pyramid of the Sun" had been going by "Chug" since at least SxSW in March 2009. So I thought this would be a pretty decent record. And sure enough, the road-tested material comes out early. I distinctly remember the drum breakdown from when I saw them - and that swirling, cresting, delayed guitar arpeggio/drone. Several moving parts keep slipping in and out, especially the two guitars, constantly overlapping, interlocking and breaking apart.

"We Got the System to Fight the System" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

This was the other long-established tune, although it kept the same name. It's a little more typical of the Maserati sound, but really plays to their strengths - forward motion and gear-shifting speed. After losing a crucial player (drummer Jerry Fuchs) and then committing to use his already-recorded drum parts, Maserati seemed to be fencing themselves in. But not at all. Even with self-imposed drum constraints, they broke out more diversity than they've ever shown - only somewhat due to the synth assist from Steve Moore of Zombi.

Like when "Ruins" crashes waves of datastream guitar-delay apocalypse over an ominous tape-manipulated drumbeat of war. Flanking that transitional piece are the pair of "They'll Suffer No More from Thirst" and "They'll Suffer No More from Hunger." Thirst (co-written by Moore) tends more towards their disco-drone side, while Hunger is more stop/start breakneck speed-freakdom. Kind of like taking Maserati's two main axes of sound out to further extremes.

"Oaxaca" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

Having stretched the field and rounded the bases, Maserati takes it on home with the last couple of tracks. "Oaxaca" (also co-written with Steve Moore) throws in everything but the kitchen sink: synth sequencer intro, Italo disco drums, chiming guitar weave, pressure-drop dynamics, an extended space-out breakdown. In a lot of ways, it almost seems built like a dancefloor hit. Or maybe a 12" remix, given that it's over 8 minutes long. Possibly my favorite on the album, which is saying quite a lot!

"Bye M'Friend, Goodbye" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

The title's meaning is pretty obvious. When I saw the tracklist, I kind of assumed this would be something more quiet or somber. And it starts off pretty mellow, just a pulse, some choral voices, and a sad tambourine. Some guitars join in, and then Jerry unleashes the drumkit. They just keep taking it up another notch more, cycling through leads, bridges and breakdowns, playing actual riffs! The intensity builds up into a kind of ecstatic release, and then fades out for good.

Coming so late in the year, and with all the factors in play, I definitely didn't expect this to end up a legitimate #1. I was already a fan, but I'm pretty confident this is the first record I've ever called a triumph here so far. Truly.

"Pyramid of the Moon" [edit] from Pyramid of the Moon (2010)

The "Pyramid of the Moon" 12" was released about a month prior to the album. The title track redoes "Sun" at almost 9 minutes, and goes through various twists and turns. The B-side is a remix by The Field - not sure if I've gotten around to listening to it.

Pyramid of the Sun

Genre - Motorik Delay-Action Post-Rock
Official -
Myspace -
Location - Athens, GA

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Limited

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