You could spend hours digging through John Maus interviews online and still not grasp some of his ideas and references.
He’s on another level when it comes to exploring the meanings, sounds and emotions conveyed in pop music. This was proven on the 2011 album, We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves; a masterful piece of work which brought together both contemporary and archaic influences.
Maus soon vanished after the record to pursue his academic goals and casually completed a doctorate in political philosophy. Now though, the illusive giant from Minnesota has returned with fourth full-length Screen Memories; an album which came into being in his rural home, often referred to as the ‘funny farm’. From the very opening synths of the “The Combine”, it’s the same wild and futuristic journey we’re used to with him.
Despite the time away, it’s clear that Maus is still getting his kicks from the territory of this album’s predecessor and that’s completely fine. The same hollow, haunting effect-swamped vocal stalks around and modular synths remain central to the album. It’s got both a definitive and timeless sound and manages to carry a distinguished identity from start to finish.
The sounds heard on the record feel like something from a fantasy world at times. They’re warm and comforting melodies that almost spark an inner nostalgia. A great example of this is “Teenage Witch”, which sees Maus gazing back into his own past. Although much like his own mind, the record doesn’t stay still. Each song is a short and punchy as the last, yet the body work carries a certain flow despite this.
This album is yet further proof that John Maus has no boundaries and relishes unearthing new patterns, sequences and progressions. He’s in his element when creating music quite unlike anything else. It’s a very exciting prospect that he’s returned to music and perhaps even more that he’s stepped out of his enigmatic veil to play some accompanying live shows.