Book of Maps, a Portland, OR based band, have one foot firmly planted in the math rock realm and another in one that has yet to be measured or accounted for. In accordance with math rock contemporaries, Book of Maps play highly unconventional arrangements and disparate syncopated rhythms. Likewise, the focus is not always on the vocals. Actually, the lyrics on the appropriately titled II are mostly indistinguishable. Vocalist and bassist Christopher Bauman treads closer to hardcore punk delivery, screaming lines over manic accompaniment. It’s this divergence of styles that deems II an intriguing release, and one can only assume, this enigmatic trio makes for a damn impressive live show, as well.
Their song titles (“Your Girl is Like A Sharp, She B Flat,” “Evander Brolyfield vs. Riddick Browe” and “Bathing Is Just So Conformist,” just to name a few) are a bit of a head-nod to another northwest band, Minus the Bear. The quick wit persists with “Freddie Mercury Equals You.” It commences like some kind of creepy circus, where it’s highly possible to envision bearded ladies and a sword swallower coming into focus. But that’s just the beginning. After all, Book of Maps employ a myriad of styles under their big top. What starts with a simple “chugga-chugga” ends with a minute and thirty seconds of tear-your-face-off shredding. “Bathing Is So Conformist,” again, ends with notes that would be pretty hard to find on a guitar.
However, for all of II’s complexities, there is an overwhelming sense of sameness at times. All the more reason that it may have been advantageous to trim some of these songs down. Six of the nine tracks are more than five minutes long. This noticeably uncovers the band’s prog rock influences, complete with solo guitar-flexed dreamscapes. Hells yeah, these guys know how to handle their instruments, but they might be better served to actually punch like Evander Holyfield and get out before losing an ear. Wait, that would be like telling a mathmatician that his or her formula is too long. The point still stands, though. Nonetheless, these guys are worth keeping a close eye, or ear on. [By: D.J. Short]
Release Date: March 25, 2006