Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK

Map 71 - Void Axis

Map 71 are about motion and emotion. The drumming and electronics provided by Andy Pyne provide the momentum to Lisa Jayne's words. Outside of Map 71, Lisa Jayne is a poet, and her words here may have evolved from poetry but within Map 71 they veer from sparse verse to social comment, magical tales to stream-of-consciousness lyrics. A stream of angst and agitation not seen since the anarcho-punk days of the eighties worms its way into the rhythm and voice of this Brighton based duo, which may account for the continual comparisons with contemporary political agitators Sleaford Mods. Our review of their previous release Gloriosa went further with references to Suicide and Z'EV and we probably should have mentioned the early albums of PiL, as the sound of Map 71 is strewn with influences from post-punk, industrial and improvisation. But they also sneak in influences from dance music into their electronics, even if it is turned upside down. Void Axis is perhaps less dark and stark than the Gloriosa, their previous release on Fourth Dimension which initially appeared as a cassette release before a hasty reissue on CD with additional archive tracks. Void Axis is their latest release of their current sound and it marks a further evolution featuring tracks that are more atmospheric and one that is even drumless, alongside their distinctive drum, electronic and vocal approach.

'Primary Radioaction' bustles to clipped rhythms and thudding/stabbing synths, enveloped in drone and chirping keys, at odds with the prose laden with imagery about a post apocalyptic future intoned by Lisa Jayne. The contrast between the music and words is continued on 'Nuclear Landscapes' which thunders to tumbling drum rolls spliced with shards of jolting electronic tones, cast against the pensive and controlled voice employing imagery as means of transcendence or transformation. These tracks could be regarded as the archetypal Map 71 sound which made their cassette release Gloriosa so invigorating but Map 71 have many more tricks up their sleeves on Void Axis.

Over the thudding and chiming electronics of 'The Prefab', Lisa Jayne relates a tale which will be familiar to many: weekend shopping trips trying on clothes in way too expensive boutiques where the real attraction was the changing room: eavesdropping on the gossip, recalling the cool interiors and sexual episodes extending into wordy forays about new towns and cheap gigs in prefabs, getting abuse for the way you look and exploding UV lights. It is a great stream-of-consciousness lyric with a fantastic wordplay on Edie Sedgwick ('Seedy Wedgwick more like!'). 'The Prefab' may be wordy but it contrasts nicely with the edgy, energetic and abstract 'Minimal Bridget' where Lisa Jayne casts off permutations of singular words over hyper circular drumming and niggling synth lines. It's a fine example of Map 71's more avant garde improvised sound and text.

What with the edgy social comment and post-punk references you might be surprised by 'The Future Edge' which seems more informed by a more magickal current or new age sensibility. It foregoes drum rhythms for an unsettling low pulsing almost motorik beat invoking a quartet of elementals in the form of Snake Woman, Midnight Girl, Seer-Bird and Slider in the spoken word narrative. Its archetypal infused prose, augmented by thundery sound effects and improvised casio sounding keys, unifies the quartet acting as a cautionary tale for this doom seeking world intent on destroying itself and its environment.

Map 71 take a different and perhaps surprising approach on 'Armour and Ecdysis'. Here Lisa Jayne's voice is layered delivering two distinct separate texts, surrounded by cooing vocal atmospherics. The improvised drum rhythms here acting as mere embellishment to the spoken word and layers of voices. Effective, restrained and sparse it offers a different aspect to the duo's drum and voice approach.

"I don't have a problem with the gun, it's the bullets I find offensive" Lisa Jayne states on '21-12' which takes its title from a type of semi-automatic shotgun. Stark drum rattles and synth pulses, strip down the rudiments of dance music into a streamlined grounding, as Lisa Jayne, cuts loose in prose offhandedly ruminating on "evil", the psychological attraction of "symbolism" and of course "guns". "Black is my favourite colour but I'd paint the gun candy pink", she states couching protest and agitation over electro-pop synth lines. And yet the most accessible moment on Void Axis comes in the form of 'Neonsignquietlife', with vocals delivered rhythmically over shuddering chiming synth stabs and skittering drum beats which propel this forward just like the "mass production line" referenced in words which appear subject to a Burroughsian cut-up technique. 'Neonsignquietlife' is a great slice of abstract pop music. The noise infused structure of 'Skeleton Gang' wraps distant treated vocals echoing around stabbing distorted keys and hyper/frantic drums, as siren-like electro keys ring out ensuring Void Axis closes on a throbbing piece of vocal laced rhythm 'n' noise.

Void Axis is another great album from this Brighton based duo. Some of the themes could be considered bleak but the observations, insights, images and comment are often daubed in painterly hues. Compared to Gloriosa, Void Axis is more diverse and perhaps not as stark partly due to the enhanced production of the tracks; I daren't call them songs as Map 71 tracks don't bother with anything approaching a conventional structure of verse and chorus. Go with it though, as Map 71 are quite unique today, with a voice that harks backs to the heavily accented punk releases of the eighties channelling electronics and rhythms that are positively thrilling. Great stuff. Void Axis is co-released by Foolproof Projects/Fourth Dimension Records. For more information go to Fourth Dimension Records or Map 71 Bandcamp