7-inch/EP Review: Maus Haus Winter/Zig Zag and Sea Sides

It seems uncanny that Maus Haus (a large group of musicians) can maintain staying power without crumbling under the weight of their own eclecticism; most other groups with similarly eccentric sound have very few members. Yet Maus Haus seems to have found a way to push onward and upward defiantly, following last years strikingly unique Lark Marvels, born out of living room musings, with an equally impressive collection of tracks built around the 7-inch EP Winter/Zig Zag. For all of Lark Marvels' cavalier creation, and any aloofness that may have permeated those recordings as a result, Maus Haus’ latest recordings reveal a band further coalescing and maturing their sound.

With something of an eerie feel, “Winter” on Side A of the 7 inch, descends on you like a heavy blizzard in a swirl of bass-y synthesizer sounds and mono-syllabic vocal harmonies -- certainly a staple of music with a heavy psyche influence. With the air of a dispassionate homily, “Winter” creates the feeling of a cold deserted street complete with a disembodied voice advising us to “look at the mess we’ve made." A part of me wants to think this is the band telling us to pay close attention to the mess of sounds we’re about to be thrown into.  If I had to guess I'd say these boys have been listening to a lot of Syd Barrett, as the lyrical style of “Winter” (and many of these new tracks as well) implore the somewhat syncopated rhythmic singing style that owes a lot to Syd’s influence.

Kicking off like a fall down a deep hole, Side B’s “Zig Zag” thunders along like a demented fun-house ride. Contrasting “Winter’s” trundle, “Zig Zag” is driven by an upbeat tempo, a powerfully forceful bass line, and a cavernous layer of vocals. Certainly the more complex of the two (if its feel is not apparent in its title) “Zig Zag” changes rapidly, jerking the listener along it’s intricate journey.

Though these two songs make a brief and very dense 7-inch, it seems Maus Haus was not entirely done, releasing these two songs along with an additional three as the digital EP Sea-Sides. Sounding like it could very well have been left off Lark Marvels “Skyward Housing,” the first of the remaining digital tracks is a well-earned bit of levity from the darker tone of the 7-inch. True to its title, “Skyward Housing” builds a rising crescendo of synthesizer sounds in an electronic whirlwind. With a driving siren like melody, "Skyward Housing" builds up the movement towards the more ambient plateau that closes out the EP.

Creating a subdued mood with a more cavernous electronic soundscape, the final tracks "Sunshine" and "Sneaky Feelings" come well-versed in the lessons of Brian Eno circa Another Green World. The tones of these tracks carry less of a punch then the preceding ones, relying instead on a fuller more ethereal construction with multiple layers of synthesizer sounds. There is a nice calmness at work in these two that function as a soothing dénouement from the more intense moments earlier in the EP.

A fantastic follow up, Maus Haus’ latest recordings carry themselves with the gravitas of a band really getting comfortable in their own groove. Thematically there is something much darker at work in these new recordings, but the chills instigated by the eeriness of the sounds are exciting to experience nonetheless. Let’s hope for a full-length in the near future.

 

-Ada Lann

The 7-inch Winter/Zig Zag can be purchased here from Rocinante Records.  Download cards for Sea-Sides are available free with the purchase of a 7-inch.