Maps and Diagrams :: Caoutchouc (Static Caravan, CD)

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(01.25.06) Maps and Diagrams (Tim Martin) is increasingly becoming a name that is
associated with wistful and soulful electronic music. A steady output of
solid material has come from the Maps and Diagrams camp, and this offering
on the Static Caravan imprint is another fine effort.

“Pismus” establishes the mood with some lovely pastoral overtones
suggesting an album themed around reflection and emotion. “Thrban”
similarly evokes imagery of longing and loss, and is almost introductory
in feel as well, featuring rough yet subtle rhythms and gentle pads
scattered amongst simple, chiming melodies.

The shimmering filtered pads that introduce “Sonnr” suggest a more
contemplative piece, yet a lazy groove snaps in with some tidy beats and
Martin’s keen ear for melody steers the track into very hypnotic
territory. This harks back to early-nineties, cleanly shaped melodic
electronica such as Autechre’s Amber, where all the elements fit nicely in
place, and there is enough aural space remaining in the track for the
listener to gain a clear sense of what they are hearing on first listen.

“Clrtmrk” confirms that Martin has a deep seated fear of using vowels in
track titles, and works perfectly as a companion track to the album’s
opener ‘Pismus’, working wonderfully as an intermission of sorts to the
more fleshed-out pieces on the album. “Stmble” is indeed an audio
accompaniment to stumbling within some sort of lucid dream world, with its
syncopated chords arpeggiating all the while.

Fellow Cactus Islander (Maps & Diagrams and Broca’s label) Broca’s remix
of “Throughme” is a stripped bare, tension-drenched exercise in subtle
sequencing, with sparse and crystalline female vocals wandering amongst
unresolved chord sequences and percussion taps and zaps. A wonderful
quality of both Broca and Maps and Diagrams is that they restrain from
overloading with bass heavy percussion, and complement their melodic focus with clever and considered
rhythm programming.

“Iohma” concludes once again with chiming leads scattered amongst big and
rich pads, almost sounding like an Sakomoto-esque oriental theme, and
suitably summarizes the overriding theme of Tim Martin’s work.

Caoutchouc is out now on Static Caravan and limited to 100 copies. Album cover is made from corkwood cut down in Mongolia.

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