Before now, John Maus of Minnesota has played with Ariel Pink and Gary War. And that makes complete sense. On April Fool’s Day we find him on the top floor of a deserted cricket bat factory in south London shouting, “I’m such a maniac!” – y’know, like Ariel Pink might – and forever making his voice go ‘blub-gurgle-blub’ with the aid of an echo pedal that actually makes War’s underwater vocals sound crystalline.
Maus is alone, and rarely plays any kind of instrument – he simply hits ‘go’ on his samplers (almost before the preceding track has ended) and he’s bouncing up and down again, shaking his head from side to side like a felt-necked Muppet character, aggressively screaming encouragement off-mic and inaudible glugging on into it. He is having a very good time. And, by all accounts, so are most of the people here to see his intense emo-tronic live show that has some labelling him an electro Ian Curtis. The reason he’s not largely lies in the fact that the sound is terrible, and it’d be wrong to level that at the factory acoustics or shipped-in PA. Maus is just so intent on cranking up his reverb and drum machine that his long set feels even longer as the delicacies that make up new album ‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors of Ourselves’ are lost in one relentless slur.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 27 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2011