Solid Ground

by Maps & Atlases on FatCat Records

Released 20/09/2010

Though their history lies in the sweaty basement shows of Chicago’s rich underground scene, Maps & Atlases’ debut album, ‘Perch Patchwork’ presents a confident, complex take on pop music. Marking FatCat’s 100th album release, ‘Perch Patchwork’ is out on 27th September. Here we have the first single to be taken from this record, released two weeks in advance of the album.

Formed in 2004, having met as art students at Chicago’s Columbia College, Maps & Atlases’ initial output (a 2006 EP titled ‘Tree, Swallows, Houses’) showcased their astute technical abilities and deft musicality, changing rhythms and tearing across guitar fretboards at breakneck speed. Their follow-up EP (2008’s ‘You and Me and the Mountain’), however, demonstrated a desire for a more measured – yet similarly unconventional - pop-orientated course that retained the mathematical precision of their first set of recordings, but demonstrated a stronger compositional virtuosity. It is this path that has led them to debut full-length ‘Perch Patchwork’, a densely textured, exhilarating body of work that sees the band developing further intricacies in songwriting, and in lush brass and string arrangements beyond the lightning-fast guitar lines that characterised earlier output - and the results are gripping.

Led by a lilting, single vocal line, ‘Solid Ground’ begins patiently, spending as long as it can hold out on subtly interweaving melodies before Latin-esque percussion braces the entire track and the slightly skewed pop that characterises Maps & Atlases is suddenly front and centre.

‘Solid Ground’ is backed with a vocal and string mix of album track ‘Israeli Caves’. The original track – a flickering, syncopated highlight of ‘Perch Patchwork’ – is here reworked into something a lot gentler, almost lamenting: everything removed except for some toy percussion, vocals and harmonies, and strings.

These tracks – along with the rest of ‘Perch Patchwork’ - were recorded by Jason Cupp (The Elected, Finch, Nurses, Cast Spells) in Chicago – partly in guitarist/vocalist David Davison’s parent’s basement, partly in Steve Albini’s legendary Electrical Audio and partly in the band’s own Soothsayer Studio. The results are a set of recordings that breathe an entirely new life into songs whose original forms were painstakingly deconstructed and rearranged for the studio.

The Maps & Atlases sound is comparable to the mature, graceful pop of Band of Horses or TV On The Radio, combined with the excitable dynamism of Deerhoof or Vampire Weekend and the progressive experimentation of CAN. Live dates have seen them share stages with FatCat’s Frightened Rabbit and Our Brother The Native, acclaimed experimental hardcore band mewithoutYou, and African legend Vieux Farka Toure - demonstrating the broad reach of sounds that Maps & Atlases encompass.

Maps & Atlases recently signed to Barsuk Records in the US, who will handle the North American release of Perch Patchwork, and to FatCat for the UK and Europe.

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