You might want to undergo a brief session with a psychoanalyst before you put ‘Maze’ on for a spin. Why? Oh, no reason, but I’d recommend just checking to make sure that you are as close to “normal” as you think you are, or at least as close to it as they say you should be. If you have even the slightest suspicion that your world view is a little askew, a little off, or just not quite in accord with the grand illusion of where the boundaries are, then listening to ‘Maze’ may well be difficult. Rest assured that it will only confirm your suspicions and serve to intensify the problem.
For a start, none of the instruments do what they’re supposed to. The guitars imitate everything from alarms to farmyard animals. The sax whistles, wheezes, howls, snarls and farts its way through a torrent of nonsensical passages that are as thrillingly hysterical as they are chaotic before an astonishingly beautiful melody appears. The drums frantically lash out before they cheekily tickle your belly and then gleefully scamper away to chuckle to themselves from a safe distance. The electronics are a mess, a melange of disorientating samples, flatulent ambiences, and Morse code beeps and glitches. And I think there’s a vocal in there somewhere, but that’s probably just someone crying out for help and so is of no real concern. I’m sure they’ll be fine in there with all the other loons to look after them. As for the arrangements, to attempt to describe the music – or “songs” – is utterly futile. Free-form jazz? Well, with all of the shapes that they adopt, bend, and break, they may as well be. How about experimental? If by that you mean that trioVD are a bunch of, ahem, “touched” scientists who take great joy in strapping their patients down and probing around in the uncharted territories of the still-conscious patient’s grey matter to unearth and trigger what had hitherto been thought impossible connections, then certainly, yes, that’ll do.
Yes, ‘Maze’ is self-indulgent, but the self that’s being indulged is far above the Cuckoo’s Nest, inhabits all three floors of the Bates Motel, and signs itself up for treatments of the Ludovico Technique as frequently as an Essex girl does for Botox. Whether an eclectic mix or a conglomeration of fortunate errors, ‘Maze’ is just phenomenal. Just lie down, relax, and don’t worry about the straps. I’m sure the guys in the white coats and the rubber gloves with the scalpels and the probes know what they’re doing. Well, I think they do anyway…
Review by Jason Guest
21st May 2012
10) Pet Shop Boys
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"Yes, ‘Maze’ is self-indulgent, but the self that’s being indulged is far above the Cuckoo’s Nest, inhabits all three floors of the Bates Motel, and signs itself up for treatments of the Ludovico Technique..."