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A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material

John Maus

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iTunes Review

With only one studio album under his belt, a rarities collection from synth/goth guru John Maus is a bit of a surprise, but it offers a gratifying peek into his musical vision. The outdated term “goth” is still the most fitting for his overall aesthetic, with club-friendly dance beats, gloomy reverb-drenched vocals, and synth tones and percussion that mimic bands like Bauhaus, Ultravox, and Joy Division. Scenes of an artist finding his way are evident: Maus’ voice is reedier, the synths more delicate on “The Law”; the overwrought, experimental “Lost” shows how brooding and effective piano can be in his hands; “Fish with Broken Dreams” (the earliest tune here) is a clever bit of orchestral cabaret. His dark humor is also more evident: “Rock the Bone” is an amusing disco tune that could have nightclub crowds reluctantly grinning as they dance, and we love the lovely “I Don’t Eat Human Beings” for more than its title. Many songs—such as the rapturously romantic “Bennington”—could have come from 2011’s We Must Become Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. Clearly, a deep well of songs lives in Maus’ musical soul—as dark as it may be down there.

Customer Reviews

First to jump:

Maus basically seems to take cliche social attitudes, verbiage, and trends and poetically sets the lyrics to "obvious", familiar, or even expected synth overtures but somehow, brilliantly, remains fresh and somehow even sounds completely neutral or nonpartisan the entire time. It's not that he's indifferent as you can feel the emotion but the emotion feels staged as if to almost elude at times to the polar opposite of what's being expressed.

I've never seen a performance, but I've heard the stage presence is something to behold. He obviously has incredible talent as far as keyboard knowledge and music history is concerned but I feel he's more of a performance or sound artist than he is a musician. There's far more to consider in what he's doing contextually than just what sounds good coming out of the speakers.

Like Gang Gang Dance but probably even more so, he would be right at home doing a performance at a gallery opening rather than being up on a stage at the local hipster hub. As the director of a great gallery who sees it all, Maus, when considered within the framework of his peers, turns trends right around on themselves and blinds them with their own stereotypes.

This back catalogue or rarities collection gives proof of his talent and observation that, as far is this collection is concerned, goes as far back as 1999 with the great track "Fish With Broken Dreams". The playlist flows like an album too, it's not chopped up or thrown together (not even chronological) but you can feel the effort of arrangement so that this flows like a mix tape of his own past endeavors. A very intelligent record and yes, it sounds very very good with a long island iced tea in the evening.

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Biography

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

When John Maus (not to be confused with the John Maus of Walker Brothers fame) wasn't playing keyboards for Animal Collective, Panda Bear, and Haunted Graffiti, he was writing and recording his own hermetic, experimental, and oftentimes misunderstood compositions. Drawing on artists like David Bowie, Scott Walker, and Joy Division, Maus' swollen, distorted, and unabashedly strange debut, 2006's Songs, was more or less reviled by any and all music critics within earshot. CMJ wrote, "It took this Ariel...
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A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material, John Maus
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