Maps & Diagrams – Lights Will Call On You
If neurologists could download the sounds of the synapses to a handful of brief, representative MP3 files, what would they sound like?
Not the inner voice. Too theatrical, too bent on rehearsing the next speech or recapitulating the last one. Think past that, to the background hiss of capillary blood near the ears: a known quantity, where we shouldn’t reside too long. Further still are the loops and echoes of remembered sounds, voices, and songs, and the way those compete with the macro-lens immediacy of real noises around us, and those noises we create: the hum of appliances. The benign scatting of wind chimes. The clink of glasses. In short, what if we could stream the subjective music of simply being human? What would researchers name the first of these files? The first six minutes of strictly neurological music? How about something like “Her Thoughts Are Her Own?”
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The forthcoming Maps and Diagrams album Lights Will Call On You is so incredibly abstract, so hazy and meticulous, it is impossible to nail down any creative intent. (No artist’s statement comes with the review copy) Another of this year’s major ambient works was equally fastidious in its disclarity, but Black Swan’s The Quiet Divide was so thematically concrete that the listener wouldn’t have accepted the music any other way. But Lights Will Call On You is abstract both sonically and conceptually. No matter, it is a part of the public realm now, or will be on November 2 via Nomadic Kids Republic. So “creative intent” is only a brief part of the discussion from here.
Our next stream of neurotransmitters would be named “Something Grows In The Middle,” and that track is also near-silent, save for some unpulsing tinnitus and distant strings — strings remembered or composed, acoustic or synthesized, it’s irrelevant, and that’s exactly the point. For listeners who would rather not be reminded of imminent deafness, there is “One Kind Of Blue,” as vague and visual at it sounds, briefly recalling dark chambers and underground rivers, but sunlight through curtains as well. Many of the sounds are processed beyond any recognition, synthesized, and this doesn’t violate our premise any: there is no synthesis without thesis and antithesis. “The Sea of Marmara” simmers with lab-water synth and processed conch shell call. “Nothing Inside Something” — always the fantastic track names — seems like a bit of a reprise: cosmic, quiet, now boiling over with tension and tones. “When The World Is Falling” is likely the most conventional track, although the term is altogether relative: hidden chimes, radiant drones, and the brief brush of fingertips on a guitar string deliver us momentarily into familiar ground. But a simple, low register synthesizer sustain can cut through a great deal of tension, even the atmospheric kind.
Trust us: it’s difficult for writers to transcribe the subconscious directly to paper. Deadlines loom, and words fail. As for thawed architecture, it must be infinitely more difficult than prose. Yet Tim Martin, recording as Maps and Diagrams for at least the fourth time this year, has achieved it once again. – Fluid Radio