'A way to find the day' by Mapstation
by Ian Simmons
[ cdreviews ]
A record for the summer we seem not to be having, this one. Created by To Roccoco Rot stalwart Stephan Schneider, 'A Way To Find the Day' is as chilled and summery a slice of electronica as you can find anywhere this side of the first Boards of Canada album.
A very different prospect from the comparatively austere climes of To Roccoco Rot, there is a sense of relaxed dub informing much of this work and a clear palette of gentle tonalities mapping out the aural space it occupies. There is the expected array of clicks, rustles and hums, but this album belongs to melody. Unhurried gentle, minor key melodies with superbly crafted textures and ringing tones. The whole thing drifts along in an unhurried way, completely focussed, but thoroughly relaxed. Schneider's fourth release as Mapstation, it has a the quiet assurance and heft of a maturing body of work of considerable worth. A particularly stand-out feature are the two tracks with vocals from Ras Donovan, Wake Up and New Direction, languid and reggae tinged, they are far warmer and joyous than one would expect from an album helmed by someone schooled in the world of clicks and cuts, where icy technofetishism tends to be the order of the day.
There are echoes of all sounds from all over contained within this album, reggae and R&B, Tortoise, The Peace Orchestra, Gilberto Gil all lend shadings to the music without it ever becoming pastiche or heavy handed quotation. Strangely, and for no exact reason I can put my finger on, this keeps bringing to mind one of the great lost gems of the 80's, 'La Variete' by Weekend, an unusual fusion of members of Working Week and the Young Marble Giants, it has been a favourite for nigh on 20 years (and talking of lost gems, who remembers the top album by the Distractions, made maybe a year or two earlier?). Perhaps it is because of the summery vibe both conjure. Anyway, if the weather is ever again suitable for loafing on the lawn, and life ever calm enough to get away with it, this will most certainly be on the CD player.