Brighton duo Lisa Jayne and Andy Pyne known as Map 71 is one of those obscure gems that falls between experimental electronics and old school new wave/spoken word, and again I am breaking the rules outside of exclusive instrumental here. Void Axis is their sixth recording since 2014, so they’ve been quite busy. It’s got more in common with Flying Lizards, Was (Not Was) and David Van Tieghem than with popular music, and like edgier sounds like those from lesser known November Group and even some sideline Exene Cervenka. But references aside, it’s less derivative than it is it’s on microcosm of synthy jams and a determined vocal on the opener: Primary Radioaction. The drumming and game-like sounds perfectly cordon off Jayne’s words, where she discusses the goings on of an ordinary day of today’s youth, shopping, sexuality and going about their business. The Prefab has a punchy layered mix and it’s all about getting ready to go out. It’s a stimulating rhythm with a beat and punctuated by giggly laughter. Infectious.
This comes off as if someone is talking to and not at you while a perky, modular sound structure keeps the atmosphere upbeat. On Nuclear Landscapes things are a bit more still, discussing decay and survival over a continuous rumbling tom tom and paced electronic code. They use a host of bouncing synths with a straight-forward poetry reading without pretense doused in sensitively tangible, visual texts. The balance between percussion and deadpan lyrical delivery are unique these days, days in which nearly every voice is vocoded and every synth is processed beyond recognition, Map 71 instead has a much more naked approach, earnest. I’m mesmerized by the way in which Jayne’s texts and post punk poet delivery are perfectly sandwiched in creative slices of percussion slathered with quirky synths.
An engine that can’t fully rev on Minimal Bridget creates an atonal, offbeat foil to the stiff list of words like: collision, radar, obsession, attraction, surrender…..This one is like a mad late night car ride on a cliffside bypass. I’m reminded of the work of AGF on Armour and Ecdysis, with its military-like drum and repetitive narration. It’s a steely, poker-faced piece. They bring back the melody and beat on Neonsignquietlife. The truism rises as Jayne sings “Losing control I really believe we’re mapped out“. As her stoic voice delivers a Talking Heads Remain In Light-flavored bassline rocks out. The yin/yang here is unmatched by peers of late.
This is my introduction to their work and I’m brought back to the era of No Wave and sonic attitude. The only other singer/s that she has some in common with, to these ears, are Poly Styrene and Debora Iyall sans the snarl. Jayne’s unbroken, expressionless delivery is so stylish and dedicated and Pyne’s incredibly inventive electronics fuel the affair the the nth degree. Honestly, if I were told this were actually made in 1981 I’d be hook-line-sinker. The fact that they can conjure such a modern take on a hallowed underground sound is remarkable. This has funk and junk in its trunk ready to pop!
This review is part of Womens Work Week – a celebration of international women working in experimental and electronic music genres. If you enjoy this review you may also be interested in one of these additional releases that we are covering this week on Toneshift.net:
- Catherine Christer Hennix | Selected Early Keyboard (Scotland)
- Kajsa Lindgren | Distorted Worlds (Sweden)
- Yoko Ono | Warzone (Japan/US)
- R.A.N. | Şeb-i Yelda (Turkey/Germany)
- Ipek Gorgun | Ecce Homo (Turkey)
- Map 71 | Void Axis (UK)
- Sonae | Wearing Black Remixes (Germany)
- Olivia Block | 132 Ranks (US)
- Vanessa Tomlinson | The Inside Space (Australia)
- Julia Reidy | Beholder (Australia/Germany)
- Jlin | Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography (US)