Friday, 7 September 2012

Music: The Search Map - Tiny Victories EP review

Hearing genuinely talented musicians for the first time is something that I experience very rarely. The Tiny Victories EP by The Search Map gave me one such experience. Hailing from Manchester, they cite their inspirations as Modest Mouse, Timbaland (on a budget), and Pavement amongst others. Their sound hints at, but never emulates, Vespertine era Bjork, Eliot Smith, Deerhoof and latter day Radiohead. The song structures are intriguing, but never overcomplicated. The songs fuse together electronic beats and live drums to astonishing effect. The guitar playing is subtle and emotive. The synths are atmospheric and otherworldly. The vocal style is somewhere between Eliot Smith, Ride and Chapterhouse.

The first track on the EP, entitled Magnets in my Skull, opens with a syncopated electronic beat and piano-synth ensemble that would stand perfectly next to Thom Yorke's solo work. The vocals wash over you almost immediately - this is a sound you can easily lose yourself in. I imagine this song feels like stepping out of a cave for the first time and seeing vast open plains before you. There is something incredibly comforting and hopeful about the way the song builds from simple electronica to a sound with the feel of shoegaze, but without the necessity drown the songs in layers of distortion and feedback - the sound is big enough as it is.

The introduction to Our House Fell Down (but now we can see the stars) sounds reminiscent of the type of beats produced by The Postal Service. Just as you expect the track to turn into a quirky, Devo-tinged electro stomper, the drummer comes in with beats that could have easily fitted onto OK Computer - what begins as electro transforms into a lullabyesque dreamscape.

Victory of Ghosts evokes some of Doves finer moments. The slow arpeggio of the guitar sounds like a music box with the bass-line spiralling around it. It is a song that I would love to hear live, I can imagine that track builds to an awesome crescendo, perfect to end a set.

There is certainly a lyrical intelligence underpinning the songs, combining existentialist doubt, with a positive outlook - we are powerless, our existence is meaningless, but there is hope in this knowledge. With the right production, I truly believe that these songs could sound awesome. This three track EP easily stands head and shoulders above many of the 'indie' tracks that are being churned out week after week by mediocre musicians with a large marketing budget behind them.

The EP suggests a band capable of great things. It seems a shame that they are a band at a point of their lives that could mean that they disintegrate and get 'proper' jobs. Lets hope that The Search Map realise that they have the potential for greatness.

This article was originally published on Leeds Music Scene in 2007.

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