Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 2011 Album Reviews

Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:10 pm

Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork 2010 CD

Pretty impressive band here, Maps & Atlases are young band who started out playing a hyper kinetic Math Rock style that would make Mr. Fripp and the Crimson King proud. Well, not a band to rest comfortably for long, in spanning over just 2 EPs and then creating this debut album, they've winnowed and shaped their style to more of a folksy indie rock that utilized an array of instruments as well invoking the spirit of a lively jamboree. They kind of remind me of a Mathy version of Akron/Family. Songs are hooky and direct, but there's a richness of sound and timbre here that isn't present on their previous works due to the multitude of instruments used. They create copious passages of sound that are full and harmonious, all the while positioning the athletic percussive skills of Chris Hainey as the main force driving each song. Melodies and beats bounce off of one another in rhythmic counterpoint, utilizing everything from guitar to piano to strings to congas, creating songs that are both consonant and intricate, but not nearly as perplexing as their previous efforts. With that said, as dense as some of these songs are, structurally they have more of a straight forward approach than their previous works, and it almost seems like simplifying their approach is an aim for a wider audience. I can't help but feel they held back just a little too much here. Listening to their previous releases "You and Me and the Mountain EP" + "Tree, Swallows, Houses EP", those pieces are literally creating a storm of polyrhythms matching the intricate, dexterous guitar playing with explosive drumming that leaves you completely exhausted and also very much addicted wanting more! Those 2 EPs are much more Proggy (or Mathy) in essence, therefor they appeal to me more. I still have yet to fully absorb those 2 EPs, there is so much going on there and are much more of a challenging listen. As to "Perch Patchwork", while I like the broad use of instrumentation, as well as the pure catchiness of the music, I can't help but feel my self wanting more of the intensity from their previous efforts interwoven into the refinement of this album. So there's both forward and backward movement going on with Maps and Atlases here, shedding their flashy technical chops for more of a 'mature' earthy direction. And I could only assume that they will develop further in this direction with proceeding efforts, but man it just frustrates me knowing how much more, instrumentally, they are capable of!


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