When Maps‘ debut was nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2007, it no doubt set the standard for the rest of his musical career. The publicity his work received built up his profile and promoted the record, which was great, but it also created expectations that his follow up material may not have met. After a sophomore effort that went a little under the radar, James Chapman returns with Vicissitude, a project that concerns itself less with keeping to a standard and more with chronicling the artist’s personal development.
Whilst it does feature upbeat rhythms, like on the infectious ‘A.M.A’, the atmosphere of Chapman’s latest is rife with sweet melancholy. Tracks like ‘Adjusted To The Darkness,’ ‘Insignificant Others’ and ‘Left Behind’ carry within them a frailty that is reflected in the vocals. Themes of failed relationships, subsequent breakdowns and disappointment are met with the realisation that there is light at the end of the tunnel. When it comes to the production, sweeping synths reminiscent of 80’s pop carry the lush harmonies and forge a dreamy electronic soundscape that one can easily lose themselves in.
Vicissitude’s strength lies in its creator’s outpouring of sentiments. Personal records are always interesting to listen to, and being drawn into the mindset of the artist certainly deepens the connection with the listener. Considering that not every electronic act cares to be this introspective, Maps can be commended on his willingness to share his trials in order to deliver such an affecting set.
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Score a copy of Maps’ Vicissitude now from his webstore.