Maps We Can Create

Shoegazing’s influence continues to live long and prosper. With We Can Create, James Chapman (aka Maps) proves that even the country where the short-lived subgenre was spawned is still obsessing over the studio trickery of Kevin Shields and Robin Guthrie. Much in the same vein as Ulrich Schnauss and M83, Maps draws from the obvious late ’80s/early ’90s influences and then kicks things into overdrive by employing processed beats to modernise his sound collage. However, Chapman appears to take the best elements from both worlds, uniting the dreamy drama of Slowdive and the orchestral grandiosity of Spiritualized with the sprawling electronic waves of Schnauss. Essentially, he’s drawing from the past and present at once, to make the next wave, in a sense. What’s most extraordinary about We Can Create though is Chapman’s ear for melody; he’s clearly studied what goes into the makeup of the best pop songs and uses his notes to build his own magic moments. As a result, sweeping epic "Lost My Soul” and poignant ballad "Glory Verse” demonstrate the capability of Maps at its finest. If there’s any weakness to his practice, it’s in the arrangement of his drum patterns, which by the end feel a little too safe and superfluous. We Can Create shines like the bright stars it shoots for and introduces another ambitious mind looking to build on the legacy of a great musical era. (Mute)