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Map 71 - Blood Fruit

Map 71 Blood Fruit coverMap 71 the Brighton based duo consisting of Lisa Jayne and Andy Pyne should be a familiar name to regular readers of these pages. Over the course of 6 albums they've created a sound based around Pyne's dynamic drum rhythms and pulsing synths and Lisa Jayne's spoken word of poetic observations and abstract storytelling. Blood Fruit is their 6th album and shows further progression in a sound that is both unique and thrilling. Earlier releases pulsed to edgy rhythm 'n' voice but while the post-punk aesthetics and angular electronics remain Blood Fruit is more atmospheric and at times danceable making greater use of studio techniques. It's a progress almost charted in their cover designs veering from the stark monochrome of their earlier releases to the bold block colours of Blood Fruit. Operating from a minimal palette of sound and voice, Map 71 have proven to be prolific and versatile and Blood Fruit continues that creative roll pushing their sound into new areas to great effect.

Swathed in dreamy looped vocals, Blood Fruit opens with 'Box Angel' propelled by taut, crisp rhythms and chattering beaty synths, pierced by discordant synth stabs, as Lisa Jayne conjures images of daemons, angels and tantra and glamour. 'Stripes' is poetry in motion. A lithe, inventive groove, filled with pulsating sequences and casio tones. Lisa Jayne make shapes, her words acting as images on Pyne's canvas of sound. Vocal yelps career off into the distance on 'Hey Shungite', the setting for a Burroughsian type character called "the meteorite kid", who over synth squelch and bleepy tones and drums reduced to a tinkering clip of hi-hats is invited on a journey into space.

We're back to earth with 'Corn Dolly Crosshatch' and its dubby rhythms beating like hand drums augmented by deep bass tones. The title points to age-old pagan customs and shadowed by shakers, the captivating hypnotic rhythms woven with a sparse vocal accompaniment brimming with magickal intent. 'The Trickster', meanwhile, is a breathless, restless and cheeky wordy mash-up of flowers, monoliths, flat-earthers and tarot card archetypes fuelled by a full-on combination of queasy electronics, parping squall and quickened rhythms.

From there we're in classic Map 71 territory, as the cooly switched on Lisa Jayne captures moments of sassy elegance amidst the darting abstract electronics, micro-rhythm flicker and computer generated whirr of 'Full Body Ghost'. 'Vixy Arcana' is a prime slice of Map 71 thundering to an impressive panoply of drum rolls and Lisa Jayne's sassy post-punk wordy explorations vividly fashioning images of a shape-shifting make-up artist. In rhythmic clips and tones things head downwards on the more downbeat 'Aerial Eyes' before it bounces upwards with an almost poppy zeal its worming synth tones unleashing vocal whoops and poised ruminations on various types of eyes.

Magic and paganism have been recurrent themes within the words of Map 71. The brooding ritualesque 'Mandrake Sutra', created as incidental music for an imaginary folk horror film, is perhaps the first time they have actively created music reflecting those interests and with an expanded line-up it's a thing of dark beauty. Hollow percussive beats and taps and sinister electronics underpin the deep earthy stretched guttural drone. Cornet parps resembling hunting horns conjure images of an open landscape of rolling fields. Orgiastic wails and moans, together with Lisa Jayne's whispered utterances add a further sensual aspect. Everything eventually breaks as rhythms cut away leaving only a monologue delivered in treated effects.

Map 71 have never sounded better or more assured. It's not as if they've changed but something about Blood Fruit feels just right. They already have a clutch of great albums behind them, but Blood Fruit is perhaps their best yet. Thoroughly unique and positively thrilling, no one else sounds like this. Great stuff. Blood Fruit is released digitally and on CD. An extremely limited lathe cut 12-inch vinyl limited to 53 copies is also available from Map 71 bandcamp