archiv: maps and diagrams

archive review – originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003

(Pause 2)

Debut full length from Tim Martin AKA Maps and Diagrams, and a delightful excursion into one man’s back to basics analogue realisation.

The press release with affectionate honesty pinpoints Martins naivety as one of the defining factors present on ‘Free Time’. Yet listening to this album you get the hint that alongside that obvious wide-eyed naivety that here is a touch of sensitivity armed with a purist viewpoint at work, this is electronics as heard and remembered by a child being replayed by that child as an adult years later, intact with all the sinister futuristic charms and that overwhelming sense of something new. Martin’s approach is one of simplicity, developing rhythmic interplays and furnishing it with mood traits. Effective, stark and sedate. Referencing Kraftwerk’s 3 landmark albums from the 70’s, Maps and Diagrams carve out minimalist electronic scores that harken to the early sound workshops of Scott, Stockhausen and BBC Radiophonics bringing them up to date to early phase ISAN and their ethereal lullaby like sound scapes.

Sure enough ‘Free Time’ is barking with bleeps, bloops and ticks but it moves with such unorthodox grace as to have you hitting the replay button time and time again. ‘Transparancies on Film’ the opener really does betray a vision of the Clangers operating some curious intergalactic morse code device with the Soup Dragon hidden in the background doing daft space walks while wearing jelly boots. ‘It_U’ which appears midway through invests a sense of humanity and warmth to the proceedings, the first of a trilogy of tracks where a defined groove is unearthed. Swirling and flickering with invigorating exotic finesse, ‘It_U’ is wrapped in the ebb and flow of wave like silken space orchestrations that brush over the popping bubbles of warming keys. ‘Reabsorb my love’ courts with the ambient dance mechanics of the Orb, beneath the dreamy collages and toe tapping grooves the underpinning of racing beats fools you into a notion of movement as the ticks click away like a runaway train ala KLF’s ‘Last train to transcendental’. ‘Djur Hours’ sweeps along like a Dalek lightshow, partly melancholic part galactic seaside-ville with a soothing drone like fabric.

You have to wait until the closing stages before the main attractions float in. ‘Midsommer Uniq’ awkwardly canters about, pulsing rhythms jockey and hustle the glacial scapes which themselves provide ominous sinister like backdrops for the listener to contend with. Best track of the set is ‘Miscel Kluse’. An almost enigmatic aloofness prevails here, tripped with a flavour of Eastern promise, it acts as a perfect half cousin for ‘Idrol’ found elsewhere, casting an feeling of icy-ness, the fanfares of thoughtfully hurting synths seem to emit their cries from the depths of a frozen abyss, quite sweet if you ask me.

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