Maserati // Maserati VII // October 08 // Temporary Residence
What comes to mind when you think of the word Maserati? That’s right, a car brand. One would wonder whether it’s a fitting name for a band that is playing space rock. Maserati, the band, not the car, are a different bunch from your average space rockers though. Their band of post rock has always been more streamlined and danceable and their new record Maserati VII (which is actually their 5th proper album) is among their most finely tuned models yet, albeit one that lacks something that would make it unquestionably Maserati.
People who weren’t aware of Maserati have learnt of them in the most morbid of ways. Back in 2010, before the release of Maserati’s 4th studio LP Pyramid Of The Sun, their drummer Jerry Fuchs (MSTRKRFT, LCD Soundsystem, !!!) has passed away. This wasn’t a random stroke either. He fell down a fucking lift shaft. Pyramid Of The Sun came out a whole year later but still had drums recorded by Fuchs. It was not a bad album but it felt like a record that sums up the band which sometimes can be accused of lingering on in one place and unwilling to do justice to the term challenging yourself. Maserati VII is their first album with the new drummer Mark Albanese and while he brings something to the sound, it’s hard for me not to think that Maserati were looking for a drummer that would sound similar to Fuchs, someone that would keep that dance punk edge attached to their music. Death gives a reason to move on and they are named after a car brand but if anything Maserati VII is a proof that the band is stuck with one sound that they don’t want to change.
Then again, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Maserati VII deals with the familiar electronic space rock that sounds like a futuristic train journey through an ancient desert and within these sounds Maserati VII comes across as one of their strongest releases to date. The melodies on the record are stronger than before and the flow is much improved from some of their previous releases which could’ve felt a bit cut and paste. The tracks themselves don’t necessarily go through motions as much as they should. Therefore the shortest moments on here are also the sweetest. The Eliminator, a brilliant pop moment for a band that can sometimes overlook a hook for no reason, and the moody Lunar Drift are the highlights. Longer tracks here suffer a little bit for Maserati’s reluctance to take them to completely different places instead of just swerving on rails. Martin Rev and Abracadabracab are by no means weak tracks but their straight-to-the-finish-line approach doesn’t make me very excited about sitting through 10 minutes of repetition. As you would imagine the record it the best when the band stay instrumental. Solar Exodus features heavily altered vocals and sounds like the most out of place thing that one can imagine. Maserati’s music paints a picture of worlds with no living creatures in them, it’s best when they stick to that image.
It’s not like Maserati have never tried anything new. They’ve been going for over a decade now but the thing is, most of the bold decisions that they’ve taken have been received with backslash. Don’t be surprised then that Maserati VII can come across as a bit ordinary, a bit of space rock MOR. It does what it says on the cover. It’s futuristic desert with weird shapes and lucid colours. It’s a foreign world but it’s also the one that has been explored and documented numerous times before. Well done Maserati for building a railway around that world but in such world of streamlined nothingness, there’s really not a lot to see or do that would still excite people who aren’t newcomers to the genre. It’s a nostalgia for sci-fi futurism that none of us will live to see and to be fair, I always imagined it to be more exciting.