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Maps – Vicissitude album review

The music genre shoegaze has always been one of great fascination.  As far as I can tell it is named for an action (or inaction really) in which a musician, or group of musicians stands a certain way on stage… still. Thereby gazing, you see, at his or her shoes.  It sounds like a practical joke, in fact, I’m not entirely sure it isn’t. Regardless, over the years (since the early 90’s), shoegaze has morphed into a recognizable sound—one of breathy vocals, echoey effects and desperate melancholy.  To lump Northampton based musician Jason Chapman aka Maps into this category of melodic dusk is accurate, but not quite so simple.

Since 2006, Maps has been cranking out LP after EP after EP.  It’s difficult to tell if he’s had one single moment to relax since his first small project Start Something turned into his first big project We Can Create and broke him into the UK music scene.  Over time the music has changed, as promised.  Where We Can Create cracked the ice, Turning the Mind took a psychedelic auger to the split and pulled every fiber of the listener’s verisimilitude down into a pitch-black, electronica trench. Four years later, enter Vicissitude.

Chapman’s song writing leans toward the dramatic.  Every new project outdoes the next—be it darker, louder, lengthier, softer, scarier, whatever—big changes occur from album to album.  Vicissitude is no exception.  There are more echoes, longer tracks, and extra sappy angst. “I adjusted to the darkness, made my home within the night, the world to me was comfortable, till you dragged me to the light.” Unlike the playful layering of “Don’t Fear” and “I Dream of Crystal,” the tracks this time around land heavy.  They’re familiar in tone and style, but they lack Chapman’s signature buoyancy.

All of this said… given the developmental fluidity of each album, I have no doubt that there is plenty more avant-garde shoegazing ahead for Maps.

By Erin Ginder-Shaw

Erin Ginder-Shaw is a writer from the East Bay who loves scribbling about music and listening to words.

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