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A Pulsating History


Maps and Diagrams

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At SxSW this year, one of the random bands Tracers was interested in seeing was Maps and Atlases. I agreed partially because i thought that EvilSponge had a promo from this act, which i thought was some sort of droning UK act. That is not normally the type of thing that Tracers listens to, but who knows?

Of course, the act i was thinking of was Maps and Diagrams. Maps and Atlases are a four-piece from Chicago who make math-rock inspired pop music. Maps and Diagrams is one Tim Martin, from the UK, who has been making music for about 9 years now. To be honest, that is all i know about this person. I suppose that doesn't really matter, as Mr. Martin makes that kind of dense, flowing ambient electronica that i like. Think Sybarite, Loscil, Spacetime Continuum, Pub, etc.

Apparently A Pulsating History is a free record released last year on internet label Beko-DSL. To get a copy, go to the Beko-DSL website and scroll along until you come to this release, then right click on the cover image. That will allow you to save it locally. They have quite a few releases, and it looks like all of them are free downloads. There might be some more interesting stuff there…

A Pulsating History has eight tracks in around 45 minutes. This is long, slow music that ebbs and flows, strange yet gentle washes of sound that move back and forth. There are no vocals, and the rhythm is a general sensation of movement rather than a hard drum hit. As such stuff goes, it's pretty good. Let me go over the tracks i like best.

First Quarter combines the drone of early Orb with a glitched-out rhythm a la Autechre. I am sure that some other artist has combined those sounds, but i am honestly drawing a blank on who. At any rate, Maps and Diagrams do it well, adding just enough IDM to a powerful drone to give it a little texture.

Drake's Departure is that kind of ambient that is very close to the avante classical work of Stars Of the Lid, Sleepingdog, and Balmorhea. There are layers of sound tinkling and vibrating, and while here i know this is done with a laptop, it could just as well have been done with an orchestra playing slowly. Well, i suppose that the clicking beat isn't really orchestral, but the rest kind of is. There really isn't much to the song, but it ebbs and clicks along nicely, a hint of glitch clicking at the edge of a slowly growing drone.

On Esquiline Hill features Martin collaborating with someone called Ylid. Apparently this Ylid is a guitarist, as this song is less ambient haze and more like the glitch pop of Epic45 or late-era Hood. As this comes about halfway through the record, it provides a nice break in the otherwise mellow flow of the album.

Finally Articles of Earth is a low drone and faintly clattering drum hit, like a tapped bongo. This takes me back to the electronica of the mid 1990s, where every stoner DJ had a bongo sample in their song. Ah, the 90s.... Anyway, i like the way that Martin uses that sample to add just a bit of texture on top of the drone.

Overall, while Maps and Diagrams are not reinventing the ambient electronica genre, he at least does it well. If you like this type of thing, the price is right to check out this album.

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