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Charts And Maps

Post Rock/Math rock

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Charts And Maps Dead Horse album cover
3.84 | 27 ratings | 6 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Take Me Back to Highland Park (4:37)
2. In the Town of Machine (11:39)
3. Gold Roomer (7:01)
4. Now I Must Hit You (7:55)
5. Pearl Divers of the Arabian Peninsula (7:32)
6. Hypnotiq American Firework (8:12)
7. Dead Horse (9:28)

Total Time 56:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Jay Watford / guitar
- John Taylor / guitar
- Mike Allison / sax
- Jasper Crane / bass
- Daniel Melancon / percussion

Releases information

Recorded in 2009

Digital album

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CHARTS AND MAPS Dead Horse ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CHARTS AND MAPS Dead Horse reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Negoba
4 stars Excellent Math / Jazz Hybrid

I picked up Charts and Maps in a glut of free math rock, so my brain has been filled with the style for the last week or so. DEAD HORSE is one of the standouts, a record that earns its hipness more from jazz than playing the nerd card. Along with the standard math technique of intertwining clean guitar lines, C&M sport a genuinely talented lead sax player who just happens to be able to improvise in 13/8. Rather than math rock's usual jerky, quirky, and just slightly too perky mood, this record moves through many emotions, some of which are quite dark. The title track, for instance, is somewhat heavy and gloomy, while the opener begins with an almost tribal drumbeat before a trippy sax enters almost reminiscent of the late great psych trio Morphine.

Fans of math rock should not be dismayed. There are plenty of odd syncopations and uneven time melodic lines. Glittery clean guitars are found throughout the album. The drumming is complex. But the jazz ideas change the overall color of everything. It's richer, bigger, more realized. I think the reason there are so many math rock EPs out there is that it's hard to make more than 20-30 minutes of this style before getting really tedious. The great bands succeed, but Chart and Maps instead have chosen to expand their palette. I think the result is superior to virtually any of their peers. The juxtaposition between a meticulously composed math line and a grooving jam works seamlessly here, with each style providing extra juice to the other.

So why not a masterpiece rating? Completely a gut judgment on my part. While I can listen to this album on repeat and continue enjoy it again and again, nothing grabs my heart and beats it for me (a tall order I know, but most of masterpiece albums do this at some point). The album does engage my mind as well as any, and certainly is an excellent addition to any prog collection.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Dead Horse' - Charts & Maps (8/10)

Is it jazz, or is it post-rock? This is a question that listeners will be asking themselves while listening to Charts & Maps' debut full-length, 'Dead Horse'. A sprawling piece of music that conjures memories of The Mars Volta and King Crimson, Charts & Maps are surely one of the most interesting 'post-rock' acts I have heard this year. Although the purebred form of post-rock has passed its prime going on a decade now, Charts & Maps gives new life to the sound by not only incorporating the sound of jazz into the post-rock format, but blending the lines together so profusely that fans may argue over which sound is actually more dominant. This experiment may have turned out were it not for the tight musical skills of the band, and thankfully there is an exeuction that lives up to its bold concept.

Post-rock is a style of music that relies greatly on drawn out sequences, so in a way, it seems a natural fit for the meandering nature of jazz. Although my first impression when hearing a band was going to merge these sounds together would predict something along the lines of a mellow post rock rhythm underneath a jazzy sax solo, Charts & Maps actually goes in a fairly different direction. Much like King Crimson, the guitars are clean, but tense, pushing forth these dramatic textures that sound like Robert Fripp could have been at the helm. The jazz half- largely brought forth by Mark Allison's manic saxophone work- doesn't merely solo overtop, but provides the backbone for the band's heaviness. As the album's longest track 'In The Town of Machine' will indicate, the saxophone is used much like a second (or third) guitar, adding depth to the rhythm, and occasionally counterpointing the guitars. This works beautifully, and creates a much more interesting sound than there would be without the sax.

The Mars Volta's instrumental sensibilities are a perfect comparison to draw with the work of Charts & Maps. Although much post-rock is mellow and melodic, the work here is hard- hitting, intense, and intense. In between these equal portions of jazzy performance and post-rock composition is a bridge of psychedelia, brought forth by the effect-rife guitar soundscapes. Although listless by nature, these sections add to the feeling of 'controlled madness' I get from 'Dead Horse'. Many fans of either jazz or post-rock may be turned off by the fusion, but there is strength and wonder to the marriage that Charts & Maps have ordained.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is a free download on the band's Bandcamp page and it kicks some serious butt all over the place. Charts And Maps are an American quintet from Los Angeles who on Dead Horse combine math rock, post rock and jazz-rock together for some great results. The line-up consists of two guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and the most unconventional member: a saxophonist who also plays keyboards (other than a little synth you don't really hear any keys). The sax player is almost like a third guitarist here, although usually what he is playing is either more riff-based or melodic than what the guitarists are doing.

The bassist is credited with "masterbassing" while I assume the drummer is the one responsible for "hitting things." These guys have a sense of humour which shows in some of the song titles here. As usual with math rock, you are going to find some excellent drumming on this album. This is a great recording which has a warm sound that benefits the music. The first track "Take Me Back To Highland Park" features some nice chorus effect on guitar. This song is a good choice for an opener, with it's pounding drums intro. Up next is the 11 1/2 minute "In The Town Of Machine." After a spacey, twangy and slightly avant beginning heads into a blues-rock groove with what sounds like slide-guitars. Later the guitar playing turns more post/math arpeggio/cross-picking style.

The rhythm changes to a more post rock vibe, getting louder and faster. Calms down a bit with some sax soloing. Slowly the song builds up a crescendo with the sax now playing a riff. Then it almost abruptly changes to a funky groove with post rock guitars. A great fuzz- toned guitar solo. The playing gets looser with some blistering guitar playing then some Crimson style hypnotic, interlocking guitars take over for the rest of the track. "Gold Roomer' starts out sounding very African influenced, especially the drumming and guitar playing. Alternates between that and a slower-paced groove with wailing sax for awhile.

I love the middle part with a straight-ahead hard rock beat as the sax and guitar play a short and slow riff over top. Later gets post rock sounding with what sounds like an altered voice in the background. Changes to a new groove before going into a great uplifting and emotional part with sax and guitar playing in unison. "Pearl Divers Of The Arabian Peninsula" starts off with pounding drums and country style guitar before becoming more post rock sounding then changes to some kind of Spanish music. A lot going on in this song. A large part of the song is a mid-paced groove with post rock guitars and sax soloing. Later a guitar solo that can't decide whether it wants to be blues-rock or math rock.

"Hypnotiq American Firework" is the jazziest song and features some funky wah-wahed guitar. The interplay between the instruments here is really good, this song shows how tight these guys are. Really cool and weird sounding guitar soloing in this track. The title track has more altered vocals which are barely audible or noticeable. Opens loose and spacey then goes into a post rock/fusion hybrid, just grooving away. Some riffs and melodies on sax. Features some sax skronking before delayed guitar and a sympathetic rhythm section lead to some sax soloing. Love the guitar soloing at the end as the sax is still soloing away.

This should be downloaded and even if you don't like the music at least you didn't have to pay for it! But seriously, this is some great recent music that would appeal to an audience larger than just Post and Math fans. In some ways it may be a gateway drug for some to get into Post/Math. This is terrific instrumental music and Dead Horse is one of the better albums of 2011, IMO. This gets 4 stars.

Review by HolyMoly
3 stars Got this a couple of weeks ago, and it's been enjoyable enough to garner many repeated listenings. The style is instrumental rock, centering on nimble rhythms, interlocking melodies, a jazzy sense of swing, and some lead saxophone. Nominally, such stuff is often called "Math Rock" in that it centers a lot on tricky rhythms and fugue-like instrumental passages, in much that same way as stuff like King Crimson's "Discipline". However, this stuff doesn't often stray from 4/4 or 6/8 time, though it does shift tempo and feel. It's a "groove" album, something you don't often associate with post-rock or math-rock, and this grooviness really helps its accessibility - it's meant to sound good first, and make you think second! And yet, it's very composed too -- not a "jam" album by any means. It's pretty complex, but it doesn't beat you over the head with its complexity. I certainly appreciate bands that can pull that off.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars An interesting band to say the least as they sort of put a new spin on the Post-Rock genre. In fact this doesn't sound like your typical Post-Rock at all but it has that flavour along with a Psychedelic / Jazz / Avant vibe. Whatever it is I really like it. The sax is often dissonant which helps make this all instrumental album an adventerous one.

"Take Me Back To Highland Park" opens with drums as the sax comes and goes. It settles after a minute. This is good. Dissonant sax ends it. "In The Town Of Machine" is the longest song at over 11 1/2 minutes. It's experimental to start out then a catchy rhythm takes over yet at the same time there is this avant vibe going on. It picks up before 4 minutes as angular guitar and sax help out. It settles 5 1/2 minutes in and builds. A nice drum / guitar section 8 minutes in. They are ripping it up after 9 1/2 minutes. Dissonant sax late as it settles. "Gold Roomer" opens with drums, percussion and intricate guitar. The sax comes in and we get some dissonant sax 3 minutes in. The sound changes as it settles in. Great sound here. Cool sound after 6 minutes and check out the drumming !

"Now I Must Hit You" has this catchy melody early then they slow it down. Then we get drums, guitar and sax expressions. It settles some after 5 1/2 minutes then it turns intense a minute later before settling again late. "Pearl Divers Of The Arabian Peninsula" has a heavy beat as the guitar joins in along with other sounds. The sax sounds great after 2 minutes. The electric guitar is psychedelic sounding 5 minutes in and the sax comes to the fore after 6 1/2 minutes. "Hypnotiq American Firework" opens with sax then it kicks in quickly. A melody line is repeated over and over before 3 minutes then the guitar solos over top. It's speeding up 7 1/2 minutes in then it ends experimentally. "Dead Horse" opens with intricate guitar as vocal expressions join in and more. Avant is the word. It then kicks in after 2 minutes. It settles back 5 1/2 minutes in. The sax and guitar are lighting it up 8 minutes in.

A solid 4 stars for sure. These LA guys are a talented bunch.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A heck of a good Christmas present, this free Bandcamp album. Thank you !! Nominally a post/math rock album, this band has with this album also moved at least one of their legs over to the Canterbury and/or Jazz genre. The main first impression is that this is a cracking good jazz album. After ... (read more)

Report this review (#595391) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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