REVIEW: Imaginary Maps: Imaginary Maps
Imaginary Maps: Imaginary Maps [WaySign, 2003] (mp3)
Three words? underdeveloped potential catharsis
There's a story within the story when it comes to Imaginary Maps, the one man trip-rock project put together by the mysteriously named VEO. This debut record has a veritable deluge of qualities, but they're all side-swiped by sub-par execution.
Let's talk about the vocals first. Aside from his total Tears For Fears worship, VEO at times chooses to process his pipes. In theory, this isn't necessarily a negative. Kevin Moore of Chroma Key pulls the same trick (sometimes even manoeuvring in and out of a vocoder to great effect), but VEO's sense of vocal urgency is compromised due to the fact that there are no other band members around to reign in his ego.
To be fair, a long list of guest musicians do make an appearance on the record, including Eric Rymes (violin player for heavy hitters Page/Plant). However, ideas that seem promising oftentimes either veer off into rivers of aimlessness, or become nothing but pedestrian pop numbers. And that's what makes Invisible Maps a frustrating listen; atmosphere not unlike that found of the last The Gathering album, Antimatter's catalogue or even Fine China's jangle suggests raw talent and expressive meanderings that merit some attention. But VEO needs to be counterpointed by someone who can offer an objective ear, a songwriting partner who can induce the repeated listenability that Imaginary Maps deserves.
Further, VEO would probably be wise to pick and style and stick with it. Though his press material envisages a world where musical borders don't exist and cross-polinization of sound is a norm, Imaginary Maps doesn't have the talent nor the vision to make this musical utopia a reality. I'm all for the bastardization of genres, but only if you've got the chops to back it up. Sorry VEO, for now you're out of luck.
So, because I'm an opinionated bastard, I'm going to dispense some advice directly to the entity known as Imaginary Maps. Stick with the Kid A of "Showdown" or the building, borderline Mogwai/Godspeed! patterns of "Air Raid". And, oh yeah, the audio samples are pretty cool, too.