The second of two albums on Home Normal's sister label Nomadic Kids Republic, 'The Town Beneath The Sea' is an exquisite piece and amazingly artists' fifth LP release this year. Tim Martin's work as Maps and Diagrams demands attention, for he has proven consistent quality throughout his work; with the excellent 'Get Lost' on Time Released Sound, 'The Voice of Time' on his own Handstitched, and 'Red Moon Rising' on Chemical Tapes. The fourth album Whilst Lights Will Call On You is the natural partner, and represents a kind of yin and yang side to the artists approach. In each release though, Martin weaves intricate structures, with a unique touch.
'A Still Life' begins the album, a sketch of textured imagery electronic tones accompanied by chiming bells and mediative strings. There's instantly a sense of place that Martin does so well. Field recordings enhance this mood adding a grounding to the ambient atmospherics. Ambient though in the true Maps and Diagrams sense - the array of sounds ever increasing, in this and his other albums, but still managing to be done well and with such originality.
Held in suspension, contour lines of history and geography etched by these melodies - timelessly remembered like photographs. Martin once again chains his work to physical places with 'Lorentzen', a town in north eastern France, there's a sense that he is imparting some secret connection with this place, and all will be revealed if we can decipher the meaning within the track. As the album progresses, new landmarks are discovered, we travel with the artist and experience the emotions and imagery he experiences like a Michael Palin of the music world.
Martin's reflections are wordlessly poetic. We are aware of a human presence within these works, ourselves even. Southern hemisphere locations depicted by writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez or poet Octavio Paz come to mind, Martin remains a master of the ethereal, transient and fleeting.
'Circa' shows a purist side to Martin's observational skills, swirling with piano lines much like a Susumu Yokota track, and lighter-than-air sonics like Boards of Canada at their most stratospheric. Unhurriedly Martin delivers these tracks with seemingly no tension or effort. At its pinnacle, 'Found Objects' marks an ascension to a mountainous submit, oxygen at its thinest; Japanese or Tibetan intonations finding harmonic resonance amongst the resulting heady environment.
Again Martin marries the physical world with the fantastical - a skill he has an unmatched talent for - making for an intriguing listen.
Available on CD from Nomadic Kids Republic - http://nomadickids.com/releases/#rel-185