Charts And Maps - Dead Horse

7 songs
56:24 minutes
***** *****
Heard Of Elephants


Nearly three years after their EP Enemies of C. Frias, Charts And Maps are back with their debut longplayer which also, alas, is their farewell record. The preceding EP was already an impressive work of jazz tinged math rock, but what the band does on Dead Horse is nearly indescribable. The saxophone adds a prominent jazz touch to the music which mixes skilfully ingredients from such different genres as progressive rock, post rock and, for old time’s sakes, even math rock.

It doesn’t even matter that they don’t have a vocalist, because the varied instrumentation makes up for that deficit. Starting with the opener Take Me Back To Highland Park, also the only shorter track running slightly under five minutes, we get a gangsterish atmosphere that sound like Morphine would have if they had had richer instrumentation. The following In The Town Of Machine, already featured in a somewhat shorter version on the EP, makes it this time to nearly twelve minutes and is a gargantuan monster of a song, slowly building its motives that comes with some really loud moments. I especially like the distorted bass guitar. The remaining five pieces are all between seven and ten minutes long, and are full of great ideas, like the afro-pop spiced beginning of Gold Roomer or the furious ending of Hypnotiq American Firework. My personal highlight is the concluding title track where the band uses for once some discreet vocals. Starting rather mystically, it soon turns into a progressive masterpiece that will leave you speechless. Although every band members does a terrific job, from the skilled guitarist to the sometimes brutal rhythm section (the drums are occasionally pounding really bad, in a good way!), their main advantage is the incredible saxophone which more than once puts me in a mood of very early King Crimson.

Dead Horse can be downloaded free of charge on the band’s Bandcamp page, so that really no one has an excuse not to get this record. I am only distressed that this is already the end of Charts And Maps, one of the most refreshing bands I have heard in a long time. The musicians are pursuing new careers in other fine bands such as Woolen, Random Patterns and Semiconscious Gloria, so keep your ears open for future greatness. Until then, enjoy every minute and every second of Dead Horse, one of the finest albums you might hear this year.

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