Follow Us on Twitter

Maps - We Can Create

Maps, We Can Create

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

EVERY once in a while an album comes along that completely blows you away from right out of the blue. Maps’ We Can Create is one of those albums.

Created by “bedroom genius” James Chapman, the album is an other-worldly gem that’s by turns laidback and bewitching, yet commercial enough to appeal to mainstream pop culture.

The most amazing thing about it, however, is the epic scope of its sound, which assumes an other-worldly quality more befitting the likes of Sigur Ros and ambient Moby despite having been recorded without a single computer.

Rather, Chapman went through the pain-staking process of splicing sounds together on his battered 16-track recorder in his Northamptonshire bedroom, before being noticed by the sort of people that count and then attracting Valgeir Sigurdsson (Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Bjork) Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, Hope Of The States) to co-produce and mix the album.

The result is nothing short of essential. It’s a hugely ambitious, widescreen epic that recalls everything from the far away electronics of Basic Channel and Carl Craig, through the skewed songwriting of Postal Service, Flaming Lips and Grandaddy to the euphoric sound-scapes of Sigur Ros and My Bloody Valentine.

The highlights come thick and fast, from opening opus So Low, So High with its euphoric instrumentation and slacker vocals to parting shot When You Leave with its layered, slow-build approach.

En route, watch out for former hit single It Will Find You, one of a handful of efforts that contains a grittier outlook and an organic sound reminiscent of The Charlatans’ Beautiful Friend. It’s a definite pulse quickener.

Elouise is another cracker, a sublime and shimmering piece of shoegaze electronica that really does aim for the epic reach of Sigur Ros.

But it’s Chapman’s unhurried approach that really sucks you in – he’s content to let his songs do the talking and is conifdent enough to let them wash over you and enchant slowly.

Liquid Sky, for instance, takes a while to sink in but by the time it reaches its beautiful chorus, you’ll be heaping the same sort of praise upon him that’s usually reserved for stalwart bands like The Flaming Lips.

Back + Forth is another heart-melter as is the beguiling Don’t Fear, a classic example of how Chapman rewards the patient listener – the track unfolding to breathtaking life like a beautiful flower.

But there’s not really a bad track on the album which has to rate as one of the debut releases of the year. We Can Create deserves to put James Chapman on the musical map in a big way.

Download picks: So Low, So High, Elouise, It Will Find You, Liquid Sky, Back + Forth, Don’t Fear

Find out more

Track listing:

  1. So Low, So High
  2. You Don’t Know Her Name
  3. Elouise
  4. It Will Find You
  5. Glory Verse
  6. Liquid Sugar
  7. To The Sky
  8. Back And Forth
  9. Lost My Soul
  10. Don’t Fear
  11. When You Leave