Drummer Jerry Fuchs joined the force of Athens, Ga., post-rock band, Maserati, in early 2005.
Drummer Jerry Fuchs joined the force of Athens, Ga., post-rock band, Maserati, in early 2005. Three years later, when stranded in a broken elevator, he tried to jump across the elevator shaft to escape, but missed and fell to his death on Nov. 8, 2009, at age 34. Maserati’s new album, “Pyramid of the Sun” is the band’s first record to be released since the accident, yet Fuchs’ presence in the music is far from diminished.
Guitarists Coley Dennis and Matt Cherry, along with bassist Chris McNeal, made an honorable effort in this album, one that made the manifestation of it last many months longer than previous albums—despite the death of their drummer—to revive his spirit through sampled recordings of Fuchs’ drumming. In fact, the only live drums heard on the entire album are Fuchs’ in various shape-shifting sample forms, taken from practice sessions and live performances.
Drawing notable influences from Nick Cave’s experimental industrial blues project Grinderman, psychedelic rock band Aphrodite’s Child, metal band Danzig and spacey electronic musician Lindstrom, Maserati’s sound has evolved to incorporate synthesizers and sequencers. Electronic artist Steve Moore is featured on this album, and his presence is like gravity to the waves of Maserati’s songs.
Though honorable in nature, Pyramids is a little disappointing. We have the first song, “Who Can Find the Beast?” that is an all-entrancing tune, demanding intrigue in the awaiting gifts beheld in the remaining seven tracks of the album. The song has the classic synth arpeggio technique that becomes so signature in this album followed by what sounds like a moaning frog-man—like a monstrous creature opening and closing its mouth, eating clouds and dust and devastating schoolhouse playgrounds. The effect is haunting.
From here until track seven (entitled “Oaxaca”), the band seems to exploit their predictability and remind you that yes, we are Maserati, and we love repetition, distortion and delay pedals. Tracks two through six induce imagery of a metallic robot army bobbing their shining heads and tapping their heavy metal feet in a synchronized groove dance of urgency and war. Track five, titled “Ruins,” ends with a tasteful decline of a militaristic marching beat until only slow and distorted gunshots remain.
The triumph of the album is in the final two tracks. “Oaxaca,” possibly named after the native tree of Mexico and known for its myriad uses and invasive properties, was the first song to be released to the public. It contains the most diversity; beginning with trance-esque synth beats and gradually growing with layers of guitar and bass riffs. When the second guitar comes in, a sense of suspense emerges and the two guitars play tag with each other for a few minutes. Midway through, the song completely breaks down with a heartbeat of a rhythm and the repetition of two ambient droning synth chords, back and forth. As it builds back up, electronic beats are added, guitars are panning through the speakers and one is filled with an ironic sense of foreboding.
The final song, “Bye M’Friend, Goodbye,” is surprising in its use of tribal vocals. Over the similar synth patterns that have been played throughout the album, a deep raspy male voice begins a sort of humming, like something heard in an uplifting moment of quiet realization; the moment of ending war, perhaps. To compliment this deep voice, something like an angel harmonizes with him. Then, a sort of out-of-place guitar riff bounces in with excitement and the whole thing becomes very uplifting and lively. This tune appropriately incorporates Fuchs’ live drum samples. The result is organic when the song returns back to the basics—guitars, bass and drums. The song fades out, which is initially received with disappointment, as it seems a weak ending for an album, but then something about the continuance of sound is comforting, like an open-ended question—like an homage to the eternal spirit of music. ?