Though their history lies in the sweaty basement shows of Chicagoâs rich underground scene, Maps & Atlasesâ debut album, âPerch Patchworkâ presents a confident, complex take on pop music. Marking FatCatâs 100th album release, âPerch Patchworkâ 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 Chicagoâs Columbia College, Maps & Atlasesâ initial output (a 2006 EP titled âTree, Swallows, Housesâ) showcased their astute technical abilities and deft musicality, changing rhythms and tearing across guitar fretboards at breakneck speed. Their follow-up EP (2008âs âYou and Me and the Mountainâ), however, demonstrated a desire for a more measured â 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 âPerch Patchworkâ, 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, âSolid Groundâ 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.
âSolid Groundâ is backed with a vocal and string mix of album track âIsraeli Cavesâ. The original track â a flickering, syncopated highlight of âPerch Patchworkâ â is here reworked into something a lot gentler, almost lamenting: everything removed except for some toy percussion, vocals and harmonies, and strings.
These tracks â along with the rest of âPerch Patchworkâ - were recorded by Jason Cupp (The Elected, Finch, Nurses, Cast Spells) in Chicago â partly in guitarist/vocalist David Davisonâs parentâs basement, partly in Steve Albiniâs legendary Electrical Audio and partly in the bandâs 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 FatCatâs 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.