The View From Here on MAP Records

0 of 5 stars

MAP – Pete Harris & Max Gilkes (guitars)

Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse

Reviewed: April 2002

Although the duo of Julian Bream and John Williams enjoyed a vogue in the early 1970s, and more recently the California Guitar Trio has made some attractive and engaging discs, acoustic guitar tends to be thought of as more for players than listeners. Which is what makes this debut album by MAP so appealing. Since the “Flying Without Wings” EP was released four years ago, the duo has emerged with a potent synthesis of rock and classical idioms, combining power chords and intricate passagework in a way that goes deeper than mere stylistic fusion. “The View From Here” continues the process with satisfying flair and integrity.

The disc opens with the boisterous ’Flying Without Wings’, its melody ranging freely over vibrant chords, then follows the wistful interplay of ’Glassillaum’ – vividly evocative of a village on the West Irish coast. ’The View From Here’ has a soulful, ruminative feel, its chordal melody contrasting with the easy tunefulness of ’Sweet Nothing’. ’The Rhumba’ puts the inimitable dance routine breezily through its paces, not without a harmonic twist or two, while ’Haunted’ conjures a timeless nostalgia.

’I Will’ is the only foray into cover territory here, a pensive and intimate rethink of the Lennon and McCartney original. After the exuberant ’The Waltz of Ten Tigers’, one track that emphatically does not live up to its name, ’Soledad’ continues the Spanish influence with a gently undulating melody that is undeniably the emotional core of the album. ’Lost in Lagos’ is a scintillating impression of life in a diverse and unpredictable environment, closing the album in uninhibited and upbeat mood.

Superbly recorded, with a life-like guitar sound that conveys the crucial element of contrast between the players, this is a refreshingly creative release that invites frequent listening. Anyone who may have questioned the musical value of such a combination is in for a pleasurable surprise.

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