Plumbiferous Media

Perch Patchwork – Maps & Atlases

Jul 4th 2010
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Perch Patchwork - Maps & AtlasesMaps & Atlases
Perch Patchwork
Score: 89

Maps & Atlases was formed in 2004, with the band members still in college, and since then, they have released quite a few EPs. Perk Patchwork, however, is their first full length album, and it was worth the wait. The band has experimented with their folk-rock sound, modifying it to enough of a degree over these past years that it has truly become a completely unique sound, with only the bare remnants of either folk or rock. Perk Patchwork is an excellent and beautiful album, a clear and worthy successor to Maps & Atlases’ past.

Maps & Atlases’ percussion is easily one of the most unique elements of the album. Saying that it acts as more than a metronome would be an amazingly gross understatement. The drums and percussion of Perch Patchwork is such a well fleshed out beast that vocals and percussion alone could easily form full, rich tracks, and they very nearly do in more than one occasion. This is, of course, not to say that the other instruments slack off.

There is an amazing amount, musically, that is simply incredible on Perch Patchwork. Transitions are invariably perfect, whether clean dividers between contrasting sections of a track or slow shiftings that, for example, serve to validate the opening track “Will,” otherwise a bit lacking in content, as a fully developed song by blending it perfectly into its successor. Maps & Atlases also manages to flirt quite successfully with often dangerous techniques such as repetition and unison, somehow always perfectly fitting and balanced by the depth of development of some other element.

Maps & Atlases’ vocal duties fall to Dave Davidson, and he does an absolutely amazing job with them. Davidson’s voice is elegantly reedy, a sound that seems to have been developed from a country twang to something not quite that. At times whiny, though never excessively so, Davidson’s passionate wailing enchants the listener while never sounding overly stressed or stretched. Where necessary, Davidson can also double as a rich baritone, seemingly at odds with his standard range, yet perfectly fitting.

Though it can sometimes be hard to decipher what Davidson is singing, as he tends to obscure words by slurring, even if he isn’t slightly overwhelmed by the instrumentals, what can be heard is quite interesting. The first lines on the album, on “The Charm,” are: “I don’t think there is a sound that I hate more / than the sound of your voice.” While the lyrics are never more clear, both in meaning and audibility, the lyrical content rarely suffers, even as one of the objects of least importance on Perch Patchwork.

Seemingly no matter what Maps & Atlases does, it sounds excellent. Perhaps this is a result of Perch Patchwork being a long time coming, perhaps it is the band’s experimental nature, or maybe Maps and Atlases simply has the magic touch, but whatever the reason, Perch Patchwork is an incredible piece of work. Really, the only sad part of the release is that there’s not much else by Maps & Atlases to listen to when you’re through with Perch Patchwork.

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