Somewhere along the line, someone conjured up the term Math Rock to delineate a style of music that combines the immediacy and economy of Indie Rock with the intricacy and complexity of Prog without the hipster artifice of the former and the interminable bloat of the latter. Maps & Atlases certainly satisfies all of the criteria to be considered part of the Math Rock fraternity; the Chicago-based quartet plays four-minute songs not half hour suites; guitarists Dave Davison and Erin Elders play with a delicacy and ferocity that turns on a dime; and the rhythm section of bassist Shiraz Dada and drummer Chris Hainey provide a foundation that is as solid as bedrock and as slippery as mercury.
Maps & Atlases formed six years ago as art students at Chicago’s Columbia College, starting out playing a visceral reinterpretation of early influences like Don Caballero and Hella.
With M&A’s debut EP, 2006’s Tree, Swallows, Houses, the band veered toward a more subtle sonic presentation, weaving more Pop and Classic Rock influences into the mix, a direction that was even more evident on their 2008 sophomore EP, You and Me and the Mountain, a more sedate set which reflected the band’s Folk interests.
M&A continued its evolution with its first full-length album and debut for Barsuk Records, last year’s Perch Patchwork, which incorporated more instrumentation and more intricate arrangements into a freshly hybridized version of their longstanding sound. The accolades for Maps & Atlases have continued into the new year; the band’s debut at New York’s legendary Bowery Ballroom was ecstatically received (the show is downloadable at nyctaper.com) and this summer finds the band opening most of the shows on RX Bandits’ farewell tour.Maps & Atlases are a lot like their namesakes; they’ll show you the starting and stopping points and the routes between, but most of all they’ll help you understand the importance of the journey.
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