Pyramid of the Sun (Temporary Residence Ltd.)
There’s a revealing moment in the not-as-great-as-it-thinks-it-is recent rock doc It Might Get Loud when U2 guitarist the Edge stands in front of his cabinets full of effects and then turns them all off, leaving the sound of his anthemic stadium-filling riffs unadorned: plink, plink, plink. That moment comes to mind when listening to the new album from Maserati—god help them if the echo unit happens to blow out on tour.
And god help fans of the sort of propulsive, retro-proggy groove that the Athens, Ga., quartet mines on Pyramid of the Sun. Once lumped as a post-rock band, Maserati now sounds closer to the lineage of wry rhythm-centric indie instrumental bands that runs from Trans Am on up to Holy F--k, and the echo makes all the difference. There are plenty of pulsing vintage synth ostinatos here (the Jeff Beck fusionoid strut of “They’ll No More Suffer From Thirst,” the Tangerine Dream-y throb of “Oaxaca”) and wall-to-wall pumping bass and drums (the latter courtesy of the late Jerry Fuchs), but it’s the way Coley Dennis and Matt Cherry’s simple single-string melodies and obsessive rhythm parts are built around/play off of the echo effect that makes these tracks really move. And while “They’ll Suffer No More From Hunger” and “We Got the System to Fight the System” may feature soaring six-string lines and coruscating psych-ish solos, it’s still the way that the echo chops up and heightens the central licks that make them memorable.
The track titles telegraph the tongue-in-cheek vibe here, though thankfully neither it nor the retro-prog trappings overwhelm the music’s basic drive. Indeed, a tacked-on remix of “Pyramid of the Moon” by microhouse celeb the Field chops up the chopped-up rhythms and pulsing bass in a way that sounds like this week, not 1979. Overall, it probably helps that it sounds like the second most important ingredient in Pyramid of the Sun’s recipe, right after echo, is sweat.