Maxx wants to thank Philippa for her lovely interview here
Now Playing "Monsters" by Maxx Silver
Its been a while since Maxx Silvers last new album of material. In 2013 there was the part remix part compilation" The Maxx Factor" and in 2014 the reflective classical music of " New Classical", a different genre altogether to his normal music.
But the wait has been worth it. His new album "Psychology" is of such sublime quality that it deserves to be a huge success. He remains influenced by 80's music, without a doubt. There are elements of bands like Depeche Mode and Propaaganda, even Dead Can Dance, mixed with lighter influences such as early Moby, Ladytron and John Foxx and even Italian disco music and Pet SHop Boys. Yet Maxx is no copyist, his own style of spirited, melodic intelligent electronica is the predominant style here. This music really deserves a much wider audience.
Maxx explains the concept behind the album.
"I get a bit bored with artists describing their music as a journey, when in reality there isn't anything there that communicates a journey to the listener. In this case, the music starts in the pit of hell, with depression, isolation and fear ( "Brimstone"). It finishes with self awareness, the gift of love, and happiness. If you listen to the tracks in order, it makes sense, like a story. But all the songs are linked to a state of mind belonging to the lyric for each song , hence the title of "Psychology". The person within each song have different states of mind, or different, sometimes serious, problems. At the end, the way forward is clear, and there is the hope of a better life, fulfilled, and with love"
Its quite some journey. Some pop musicians have not managed this amount of variety in a whole career, let alone just 66 minutes or so of one album. Its all rather deep though isn;t it?
"Not really. I'm not a very deep or complicated person! These are all places I have been myself in my mind"
The title track is Psychology is a gorgeous song. Its a bit glum, it makes me think of "Dream within a Dream" by Propaganda.Moving along at a fair old pace, with a soothing cotton wool of atmospheric synthesiser and organ combined with wistful piano, trumpet and guitar. " For whatever reason, I don't understand this person in the song. But I love that person, unconditionally."Still on the darker side of the album, is "I'm Not Awake". "Its my favourite track, it portrays a dreamlike state really. I am either asleep, or on the other side, in this song. Its also about missing someone who is close to you " The video is stunning - beautiful and disturbing imagery from Maxx's beloved Italian Lakes. "Monsters" (which will be a single) is more pop-hip-hop style, and in terms of mood is quite a jolly song with the lyric "The monsters they come out to play". Good use is made of a soulful trumpet between verses. Lyrically it is about the thoughts that lurk deep in the mind.
"Virtual World" deals with the self obsessed computer addict person in his bedroom, unable to leave the house as "going out is over rated" as he looks for his "Virtual Girl" A real song for our times. It manages that rare feat, to convey hope in terms of the mood of the song despite the lyrics being about isolation.
"I' might get a video director in to complete a video for that, though the record company isn't so happy with the long intro (1 and a half minutes) for a single. I think it is part of the fun of that track though!".
Maxx likes long introductions to this music. In these press for play times, its against the grain...
" What ever happened about building a mood and setting an atmosphere?" he exclaims. " Look at Blue Monday for example, it would not be the same track if the vocal came in straight away. There are countless more examples of that. The average intro now has been measured at about 7 seconds!"
We then have a discussion about how music is increasingly about instant gratification, not setting up atmospheres and gradual crescendos. Maxx tells me that "a slow climax is a good thing!" and we both descend into giggles...
There are screaming synths, rock hard percussion, melodies, and lyrics that actually have meaning. The tone of the lyrics gives it honesty, its not disconnected from the artist, unlike so much music these days
Somewhere during the Mobyish ( and very beautiful) "Follow Direction of Travel" which only appears as a fragment here, the mood moves stratopheric. The clouds vanish rapidly.
Those wanting the Maxx eliptical dance tunes of old then do have three stonking electro dance tracks here. The track "Disorientation" is "about a bloke dancing in the middle of a field, trying to put his worries behind him" "Gatekeeper" is an off kilter drum and bass orientated tune, apparently about warding off psychic attack. "Its about winning the battle to be yourself.
Its easy to think, if things are not going well, that you have no control of things. Regaining control and finding the positive people and things to focus on is the key to finding happiness. The Gatekeeper is a spirit who defends you from psychic attack. I defy anyone to say that isn't an original subject for a song!"
"No information" is a Italian influenced electro disco stomper. I'm not sure what it is about.... Maxx? "Its about lack of communication in a relationship. Its about not knowing whether you are doing well or not!"
And "Batello" (Boat) is... a fully fledged rock ballad, on synthesisers. A great tune, and would deserve to be a huge hit in a parallel universe not like ours.
"I was thinkiing a kind of Talk Talk mood there, not that I could ever do anything as great as the Colour of Spring. I wrote it on holiday in Italy, and the metaphor is leaving on a boat, one relationship on one shore, and a new relationship on the other side. But its weird in that the "ex" does not appear to mind me going for the new girl !"
"Stazione" is a little like a male voiced Goldfrapp. But it is not about stations... "I was reading that a station is where you are in life. I didn't realise it when I wrote the lyric, but I had a warning that I had to do different things in life. I took up keep fit twice a week because I realised I was in quite bad shape. So the song is saying, look after yourself, really."
"Where Everything Becomes light" is, eventually a life affirming, glorious crescendo of sound. "You found me a ruin rebuilt these walls showered me with love and you catch my fall" sings a very impressed sounding Maxx At this stage, Maxx seems to be saved by love. It is a fitting closer to the album. "Its about a holiday romance, and the excitement of being in a beautful place and having such heightened emotions"
No track on this album retreads the terrritory of others, meaning that it really does feel like a journey. However its a clearer musical vision than the tracks on "Shades of Silver", his previous album.
And Maxx has some news for his select band of fans.
"I'm playing the Brighton Fringe Festival June 2nd and 3rd . All my best tracks, within an hour long show. Come and see me at the Brighton Unitarian Church 3.00 5.00 and 7.00" ( More Details on the "Live" page
I left not only feeling that Maxx had made an impact on my own psychology but that his album will have an impact on yours!
Copyright Philippa Russell 2016