Enigmatic synth pop experimentalist John Maus recently released the third cut, ‘Touchdown’ complete with video from his new album Screen Memories out yesterday. It’s a track that sees him hold up the competitive drive inherent in American Football both as mirror and metaphor for the values of society. A steady beat and a barely discernible but crucial percussive shuffle take immediate control in parallel with a dark and pulsating synth bass driven bottom end, serving to simultaneously create a feeling of constant motion with a sense of wary unease. Otherworldly keys soon come cascading down and initially serve as relief, contrast and counterpoint. Indeed, its always been a Maus trademark to employ subtle touches of light to lift the gloom.
But its soon apparent as those sparkling tones become more warped and edgy that all is not well in general in the land of the ‘free’, the ‘brave’, the land of constant competition. The accompanying video, like the previous two, is again directed by the savvy Jennifer Juniper Stratford of Telefantasy Studios and sees Maus cast as a football coach desperate to win at all costs. Using the ultimate score in American Football as a metaphorical reference point, he repeatedly echoes the mantra ‘Go For The Touchdown’ seemingly at once both celebrating, mocking and reluctantly accepting the country’s myopic fascination with competitiveness and a winner take all mentality.
Against the video’s dark backdrop, its almost as if Maus is caught in dream like state worshipping at the altar of absurdity, all the while surrounded by an artificial visual environment full of dystopian contrast. Maus’s angst in his role actually becomes worse after his charge scores the touchdown. Rather than join the player’s unadulterated celebration, he greets the feat with a cacophonous array of unintelligible directives. He then desperately bellows into the camera ‘forward drive across the line’ at the track’s half way point, a point where, ever so briefly, rhythmic discipline disappears and time quickens dramatically. After a couple of mathematical like bars of tidy off-beat recovery, the track soon regains its trajectory as desperation gives way to contemplation on a subject ultimately unresolvable without some kind of lasting revolution. Can we ever be truly content with capitalism’s structures?
Watch the action unfold below and also check out the video to second single, ‘Teenage Witch’ which followed up the first taste of the record, ‘The Combine‘. Screen Memories was out on Friday through Ribbon Music. Buy here.
John Maus (USA)
From the album, ‘Screen Memories’, Ribbon Music.
John Maus Facebook
John Maus (USA)
From the forthcoming album, ‘Screen Memories’, Ribbon Music. Out Nov. 3.