Maps and atlases and Maps & Atlases

I like maps.  I’m not sure exactly why.  Obviously they’re useful, but I think it has more to do with how a map can engage my imagination…can serve to dislocate my mind in a good way.  For me, map is like a micro-vacation.  Surprisingly satisfying.  I especially enjoy fictional maps that take you to places you can’t get any other way like the ones you find on the first page of The Lord of the Rings, Anne McCaffrey’s The DragonRiders of Pern, or Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Illearth War.  When I was a boy I invented an island by drawing a map of it, then I imagined the adventures that happened on it.

Maps also constrain thought, of course.  They can force you to think in terms of cardinal directions, to lay out a grid over the land.  They can obscure the treacherousness or grandeur of a mountain and subtract the salt or sulfur from a lake.  Which is to say that maps and atlases cannot convey the sublime.  Their usefulness conspires against it.  What good is a map that does not mock the immensity of space?

All of which has nothing to do, really, with Maps & Atlases‘ upcoming debut LP, Perch Patchwork. I’m not sure where they got the name except that though they are Chicago-based, the four members (Dada, Hainey, Davison, and Elders) hail respectively from Chicago (north), Texas (south), Philadelphia (east) and Maui (west).  I think you’re going to like the following track, which reminds me of something Procol Harum might’ve done back in the day, though Wild Beasts probably makes a better and more recent comparison.  It seems I missed them at the First Unitarian Church about a month ago, when they played with Frightened Rabbit, but I’ll be sure to catch them when they come back around to Philadelphia to play at Kung Fu Necktie on August 14th.  Perch Patchwork will be released June 29.

Maps & Atlases, “Solid Ground”

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6 Responses to Maps and atlases and Maps & Atlases

  1. David G says:

    I do like this, a lot actually. But I’m not hearing Wild Beasts (except for the percussion that comes in at the minute mark… what is that?), but I’m hearing a whole lot of TV on the Radio: both the vocals and the swirling instrumentation. I’ll be checking this out, for sure.

    • TV on the Radio would probably be better. There are a couple of other tracks that remind me a bit more of Wild Beasts, the non-falsetto singer has a very similar voice and style. This album is almost definitely in my top-ten for 2010.

      • David G says:

        I listened to their EP debut yesterday, and it sounds nothing like this song:very, very math rocky. I wasn’t into it. But I’m excited to hear the new album.

  2. David G says:

    Oh, and I agree: maps are cool. And mocking the immensity of space is where it’s at. Even better: mocking the immensity of space AND time a la phillyhistory.org.

  3. I love this song.

  4. It keeps stopping, though.

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