Harmonic & Skinny Wolves presents
“Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus’ style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure. When confronted with music like this, it’s impossible not to be a believer.“ – Tiny Mix Tapes
The everyday realm where our lives seem both familiar and equally strange is where John Maus resides. His surreal touch is disarming, opening our eyes to the reality outside the four walls. John Maus performances are not your usual concerts, there are very few of them, he only played a handful of shows in Europe in the past years. The walls between surreality and imagination break down the fog lifts and opens a view to our inner self through him..
JOHN MAUS lives in his birthplace of Austin, Minnesota. Whilst working towards his PhD in Political Science he also composes music that taps into melancholic fantasy and affirms that we are all truly alive. Questing synthesisers, tensely strung bass lines and chasing drum machines provide the perfect backdrop for John’s deeply resonant reverb-drenched vocal.
Born in the decade of synth pop and sharing his birthday with George Frideric Handel, John started making music when Nirvana posters went up on every teenager’s wall. It’s this curious conflux of influences that partially helps to describe John’s music. It’s a world where the Germs jam with Jerry Goldsmith, Cabaret Voltaire relocate to Eternia and Josquin des Prez writes a new score for RoboCop. The confrontation of punk, the fleeting poignancy of 80s movie soundtracks, the insistent pulse of Moroder and the spirituality of Medieval and Baroque music all find salvation in John Maus.
His latest album ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves’ broke new ground for Maus. The shirt pulling and air punching of his impassioned live performance is finally captured in all its frenzied appeal alongside a tender inner space. After stretching muscles with opener “Streetlight”, arpeggiators bubble up to new levels with “Quantum Leap”, a song full of dead zones, glancing slaps and oscillating solos.
‘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.”
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