Concert review: Maps and Atlases [Horseshoe Tavern, August 7, 2010]

Maps and atlases, SXSW, March 17

Toronto – “In the sweltering heat 17C heat of Austin TX this March, covered Maps and Atlases, we have. But math rock they make, we did not know.”

Alright. Yoda.

Although I know little about music, math is something that I am inclined to check out. So I went to see them again, with the expressed goal of discovering if there are equations behind their music. That’s when I felt that there’s a little green midget behind the stage fiddling with the cables, making great music that theoretically flows as well as the septic tanks at Ashbridge’s Bay. Believe it or not, I ran their songs through a Matlab program and found that cumulative autocorrelation of their songs isn’t much more interesting than other bands… but then again I’m no expert in math and don’t know if that’s even a measure for anything. So I don’t know about an equation – but there is definitely a madness to their methods.

We walked into the Horseshoe Tavern around 12am, about 10 minutes after the quartet started to play. I have heard several that they played this night, for example, Carrying the wet wood, Pigeon, and Banished be Cavalier before. Eventually I was able to correlate this set almost entirely back to their new album – Perch Patchwork, which just came out a month ago. I might mention that this is their debut full album. I guess on the strength of EPs alone they have built quite a following. Of the 100+ people there, many were fist-pumping to the tunes and on-beat. At first I ran into the same wall that I did at SxSW – I was analyzing it too much, and couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the music. It took me about 5 minutes to settle down and start to really enjoy the twists and turns. I feel that their songs are sequences of musical non-sequiturs. Beats of the singing change mid-bar, melodies turn into slides. The title song Perch Patchwork is a good example. I still couldn’t sing along on the basis of the melody. The first time I heard it, my brain went ballistic and thought that it’s dissonant. But the music grows on you. I have not updated the good vibes when listening to them – a good thing. When I put the new album on shuffle for the first time, I couldn’t even catch the transition between songs. It’s either that smooth, or they have just successfully brainwash me for those musical transitions to sound normal. The Charm might be the most normal song they have on this album – the incessant marching drum forces a large contrast with the lament, giving the feeling of no return. Solid Ground is quite pedestrian – but look over it because it sounds like Magnolia’s soundtrack and nothing can be wrong with that movie. Dave Davidson’s voice is slightly thin and agile enough for what the scores demand. The bass and guitar don’t work the audience overly hard. To add to that, the band is very gentlemanly and genial, without the stereotypical hipster attitude. Mathematical precision, I presume. I think the Canadian crowd really appreciated that fact. After about 45 min of play and 3 more encore songs, Maps and Atlases took their bow.

You can find one of their more “famous” numbers here free: Pigeon has a memorable guitar hook. Was, is a cool instrumental piece. I liked Living decorations and Perch Patchwork. So I guess this is also a solid YES to their new album. Math (or little-green-man) on!

Maps & Atlases – Living Decorations by FatCat Records

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything, Reviews

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