Mr Maps – Wire Empire (Lofly Recordings)
by Wallace Wylie
It’s a common complaint from music fans these days that many reviews are more about the reviewer than the music. If this complaint is to be believed, it’s only natural to assume that the problem lies with the reviewer and not the music. What if, however, the reviewer resorts to talking about their own life because there is simply NOTHING TO TALK ABOUT IN REGARDS TO THE MUSIC? Even with some music I like I really have nothing to say. It’s there, I like it, that’s about it. I’m still going to think that the time I had a big emotional reaction to an Erasure song aged 14 is a more interesting story. So what am I to say about Mr Maps? Well, would it makes things easier if I told you the story of how I bought a copy of Wild! from a vendor in Falkirk high street, on cassette? See, suddenly you find me charismatic don’t you?
In regards to Mr Maps, they fit the genre of music commonly referred to as post-rock. Post-rock … that label has always bothered me. As far as I can see it just means atmospheric rock without vocals. Music that unfolds rather than blurts out. The thing is, I like the human voice, I like the vulnerability of it. Sigur Rós bore me, and I get tired of reading the word ‘womb-like’ in connection with them. I never got Mogwai and I couldn’t help thinking that they sounded just like woefully underappreciated Glasgow group Telstar Ponies except without the vocals. I never liked math rock or any of that kind of thing. If I’m going to listen to music without vocals I generally opt for electronic groups. So now I talk about Mr Maps and their album Wire Empire.
The truth is I don’t mind them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not setting my world on fire but I do find myself getting into it at times. I’m not trying to damn Mr Maps with faint praise, I’m just trying to say that I think they’re alright and that means I like it more than I expected. It’s got the guitar patterns, the weird time signatures, the atmospheric piano, all that stuff. The song titles are immaterial, and I’ve been listening to the album without looking at the artwork and as a result can’t remember what specific songs sound like, so you’re just going to have to trust me that I think the music is not bad, though I probably won’t listen to the album ever again. Getting back to more important matters; did I ever tell you about the first time I heard ‘The Winner Takes It All’ by Abba?