The music of Alex Maas has always mesmerised. Now, on his soul-baring solo debut Luca, the Texan and Black Angel’s singer journey is taking an equally hypnotic detour along the wild trails of his indigenous homestead. Driven by the force of nature, each phase of life is celebrated through songs of love, hope, human connection whilst navigating perils of modern society and tentatively facing the darkness.
“I’m trying to find balance in the insane world we live in,” reveals Alex. “Is shit scary? Yes. Is life beautiful and filled with hope and inspiration? Yes. You have to go into the dark to appreciate the light and vice versa. Everything isn’t always peachy, one day you are walking through a beautiful field and get bit by a rattlesnake because you are blinded by the colourful flowers. It’s ok to be afraid, sad and fearful because you need it to appreciate all the beauty the world has to offer.”
Casting shades of deeply personal wide-eyed innocence and the darker realms of paranoia, the menace of The Black Angels neo-psychadelia is barely noticeable across his masterfully crafted solo LP. Instead it’s a record fuelled by memories of an upbringing in the strange, unique paradise of his father’s plant nursery in Seabrook, Texas by the waterfront of the Gulf of Mexico. Native American sounds would drift through the garden’s hidden speakers, ricocheting off multi-coloured pottery mazes of curiosities from across the world. “It was such a magical place to grow up and has been in our family since the 50s” Alex recalls. “For me, music and nature are so intertwined they are totally synonymous. My earliest memories of music are embedded in birdsong, the sound of insects, and wind moving trees.”
With echoes of nature that Alex grew up around Luca dances like dandelions on a breeze but is spiked with a squint of suspicion as its percussion shimmers like that cautionary rattlesnake. Recorded at Space Flight Studios in Austin, Luca was an evolutionary project with some early songs worked up from their acoustic origins whilst others were written more recently. Co-produced with long-time collaborator Brett Orrison, the record began its transformation from loner folk leanings to a worldlier embrace. Calling upon members of The Black Angels, Wide Spread Panic, Mien, the Sword, Jack White’s band and the Eels.
Stepping out on his own Maas is walking along his own untrodden path, and with Luca offers an honest and true account of what has passed and what may yet come through the parabellum of new parenthood. “Being a father is the most beautiful thing. It also comes with many justifiable fears… the darkness hanging over society,” Alex tells. “What will life be like when my son is my age? Hopefully happy. I believe there is more good than evil in this world.”