Now in their 20th year, Maserati continue to make music that sounds both futuristic and somehow nostalgic. Enter The Mirror is the sound of a Tomorrow’s World presenter tinkering on a stylophone, orbiting Earth in a futuristic capsule of Kubrickian design.
Bolstered by the production skills of John Congleton (of The Paper Chase and more recently responsible for forging the sound of Angel Olsen and Swans – amongst others), this latest effort from Maserati sounds positively massive. It’s perhaps only a slight move on from their previous effort, Rehumanizer, but in terms of sound there’s definitely a specific vision being developed here. Maserati naturally owes a lot to the likes of Neu, Kraftwerk and even Silver Apples simply by virtue of them being predominantly driven by synths. However, the muscularity in the drum sound and the sheen of the guitars on this latest effort suggest that they’re mining the 1980s, and it’s definitely paying off.
The opening instrumental thrum of 2020 calls to mind M83 but also sets up an ambient space for Maserati to explore. Hurtling through the heavens is, apparently, both a relaxing and invigorating experience, and they’re sending back a message for us to join them. That said, 2020 develops into Warning From The Dark, a pulsing, mechanical dance floor filler beamed in from the outer reaches. Complete with robotic vocals (inspired by Kraftwerk or perhaps Flight Of The Conchords) its unrelenting beat insists on movement, albeit the kind of shapes cut by C3PO on a night out.
Things start to really open up with the thunderous Killing Time, with its ferocious drum attack and serrated guitars adding up to an exhilarating attack on the senses. It pauses briefly for breath around the midpoint before launching into a second exerted assault. The robotic vocals might detract from the overall bombast, and perhaps there’s an argument that Maserati would have been better to have leave it as a purely instrumental song. Even so, there’s no doubting the sheer weight that they’ve managed to conjure up.
Once they’ve achieved the jump to light speed, Maserati don’t really let up. The rest of the album is an exercise in thundering riffs, overdriven guitars and synths, and constantly accelerating drumming. Empty is the perfect example of this, marrying them all into something that sounds like heavy metal as envisioned by Silent Running‘s Huey, Duey and Louie. Comparisons could easily be made with those other electro car enthusiasts Trans Am, but Maserati have forged a sound that’s all their own here.
Wrapping up the album is Wallwalker, another boisterous synth guitar workout that calls to mind the chiming guitars of Big Country, particularly on the Restless Natives soundtrack, when they were encapsulating the sheer beauty of the Scottish highlands. Here Maserati are apparently attempting to encapsulate something much larger, the infinity of space and the endless depth of the mirror. With this album, they’ve achieved it.