PRJ049 - Map 71 Void Axis

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  1. Primary Radioaction
  2. The Prefab
  3. Nuclear Landscapes
  4. The Future Edge
  5. Minimal Bridget
  6. Armour and Ecdysis
  7. Neonsignquietlife
  8. 21-12
  9. Skeleton Gang

Format: CD
Price: £12.00
Released: September 2018
300 Copies

Joint release with Fourth Dimension Records.

Reviews for Void Axis, September 2018

'Map 71 are about motion and emotion. The drumming and electronics provided by Andy Pyne provide the momentum to Lisa Jayne's words. Outside of Map 71, Lisa Jayne is a poet, and her words here may have evolved from poetry but within Map 71 they veer from sparse verse to social comment, magical tales to stream-of-consciousness lyrics. A stream of angst and agitation not seen since the anarcho-punk days of the eighties worms its way into the rhythm and voice of this Brighton based duo, which may account for the continual comparisons with contemporary political agitators Sleaford Mods. Our review of their previous release Gloriosa went further with references to Suicide and Z'EV and we probably should have mentioned the early albums of PiL, as the sound of Map 71 is strewn with influences from post-punk, industrial and improvisation. But they also sneak in influences from dance music into their electronics, even if it is turned upside down. Void Axis is perhaps less dark and stark than the Gloriosa, their previous release on Fourth Dimension which initially appeared as a cassette release before a hasty reissue on CD with additional archive tracks. Void Axis is their latest release of their current sound and it marks a further evolution featuring tracks that are more atmospheric and one that is even drumless, alongside their distinctive drum, electronic and vocal approach.

'Primary Radioaction' bustles to clipped rhythms and thudding/stabbing synths, enveloped in drone and chirping keys, at odds with the prose laden with imagery about a post apocalyptic future intoned by Lisa Jayne. The contrast between the music and words is continued on 'Nuclear Landscapes' which thunders to tumbling drum rolls spliced with shards of jolting electronic tones, cast against the pensive and controlled voice employing imagery as means of transcendence or transformation. These tracks could be regarded as the archetypal Map 71 sound which made their cassette release Gloriosa so invigorating but Map 71 have many more tricks up their sleeves on Void Axis.

Over the thudding and chiming electronics of 'The Prefab', Lisa Jayne relates a tale which will be familiar to many: weekend shopping trips trying on clothes in way too expensive boutiques where the real attraction was the changing room: eavesdropping on the gossip, recalling the cool interiors and sexual episodes extending into wordy forays about new towns and cheap gigs in prefabs, getting abuse for the way you look and exploding UV lights. It is a great stream-of-consciousness lyric with a fantastic wordplay on Edie Sedgwick ('Seedy Wedgwick more like!'). 'The Prefab' may be wordy but it contrasts nicely with the edgy, energetic and abstract 'Minimal Bridget' where Lisa Jayne casts off permutations of singular words over hyper circular drumming and niggling synth lines. It's a fine example of Map 71's more avant garde improvised sound and text.

What with the edgy social comment and post-punk references you might be surprised by 'The Future Edge' which seems more informed by a more magickal current or new age sensibility. It foregoes drum rhythms for an unsettling low pulsing almost motorik beat invoking a quartet of elementals in the form of Snake Woman, Midnight Girl, Seer-Bird and Slider in the spoken word narrative. Its archetypal infused prose, augmented by thundery sound effects and improvised casio sounding keys, unifies the quartet acting as a cautionary tale for this doom seeking world intent on destroying itself and its environment.

Map 71 take a different and perhaps surprising approach on 'Armour and Ecdysis'. Here Lisa Jayne's voice is layered delivering two distinct separate texts, surrounded by cooing vocal atmospherics. The improvised drum rhythms here acting as mere embellishment to the spoken word and layers of voices. Effective, restrained and sparse it offers a different aspect to the duo's drum and voice approach.

"I don't have a problem with the gun, it's the bullets I find offensive" Lisa Jayne states on '21-12' which takes its title from a type of semi-automatic shotgun. Stark drum rattles and synth pulses, strip down the rudiments of dance music into a streamlined grounding, as Lisa Jayne, cuts loose in prose offhandedly ruminating on "evil", the psychological attraction of "symbolism" and of course "guns". "Black is my favourite colour but I'd paint the gun candy pink", she states couching protest and agitation over electro-pop synth lines. And yet the most accessible moment on Void Axis comes in the form of 'Neonsignquietlife', with vocals delivered rhythmically over shuddering chiming synth stabs and skittering drum beats which propel this forward just like the "mass production line" referenced in words which appear subject to a Burroughsian cut-up technique. 'Neonsignquietlife' is a great slice of abstract pop music. The noise infused structure of 'Skeleton Gang' wraps distant treated vocals echoing around stabbing distorted keys and hyper/frantic drums, as siren-like electro keys ring out ensuring Void Axis closes on a throbbing piece of vocal laced rhythm 'n' noise.

Void Axis is another great album from this Brighton based duo. Some of the themes could be considered bleak but the observations, insights, images and comment are often daubed in painterly hues. Compared to Gloriosa, Void Axis is more diverse and perhaps not as stark partly due to the enhanced production of the tracks; I daren't call them songs as Map 71 tracks don't bother with anything approaching a conventional structure of verse and chorus. Go with it though, as Map 71 are quite unique today, with a voice that harks backs to the heavily accented punk releases of the eighties channelling electronics and rhythms that are positively thrilling. Great stuff. Void Axis is co-released by Foolproof Projects/Fourth Dimension Records.', September 2018

'Andy Pyne and Lisa Jayne, who make up the duo of Map 71, have been highlighting their hinterland that exists somewhere between myth and dreamstate since 2014. Perfectly described by Lisa's book of words, Mutant Dreams, they inhabit and document that precious point between waking and sleeping where things appear normal, but have a touch of the surreal in the tiny details. Andy takes charge of drums and synths, lending vibrant and noisy — if slightly disturbing — beat-driven soundscapes to Lisa's deadpan storytelling, or as happens in places, the intoning of repetitive mantras.

Spread over nine tracks and forty minutes, Void Axis (the title itself has a feeling of detachment), Map 71 do their best to draw you into the shadowy world of mystery nightclubs in prefabs on new town roundabouts and semi-mythical creatures like the seer-bird and the snake woman. "The Prefab" is a strange story of the narrator telling tales of nights out and the people she meets, but it all has an air of remove, as if it were a treatment for an updated George Orwell story.

Things are happening that sound familiar, but there is a layer of future fear that is slightly alienating. Lisa delivers in this is almost without accent and without emotion, as if recounting to somebody in the future who exists outside your experiences. Meanwhile, Andy throws hollow-sounding drums and insistent, frantic synthscapes at the whole thing, the hyperactivity being a great juxtaposition to the cool vocal delivery.

There are deep resonant drums and loops of distorted noise on "Nuclear Landscapes" and here Lisa's vocals do sound as if they are recorded in a bunker, making the whole thing darker and more sinister. In places, as on "Minimal Bridget", the repetitive background racket threatens to overwhelm Lisa's mantra-like delivery of nine seemingly random words, drawn out over and over, the order changing until you are lost in the black hole of it all. There are nods to post-punk and also to the budget horrorscapes of Suicide, but on the whole, Andy's backings are as unique as Lisa's delivery and suit the material perfectly.

The idea behind the tale "The Future Edge" is fascinating — I am not going into too much detail because it would ruin the effect of hearing it for the first time — is a joy, an unsettling and mysterious trip but a joy nonetheless. Between the lyrics and the harsh and jittery backing, it isn't particularly comfortable, but that is the beauty of good art. If you have a chance to track down a copy of Lisa's book of words then do that too; but for an introduction to their world, Void Axis is a great start.', September 2018

'This is glorious. It's not accessible, easy, light. In fact, it's anything but either. Atonal vocals and clattering motoric percussion dominate. We've moved a long way from The Fall and Kraftwerk, but at the same time, MAP 71 call to mind the sparse simplicity of Young Marble Giants, but synthier and dronier.

Blank, monotone narratives about nothing in particular drift out over repetitive synth oscillations and cyclical synthesised rhythms. For ever.

'Nuclear Landscapes' presents a thunderous, murky, barrelling noise by way of a backdrop. The rhythms are messed-up, sound bouncing against sound to build a dark mess of noise like tennis balls in a tumble dryer. Elsewhere, 'The Future Edge' goes murky and dips into Suicide territory with its dark, dank, throb which provides the sonic backdrop to Lisa's expressionless spoken-word narrative.

'Armour and Ecdysis' goes spacious and eerie, with fear chords and heavy echo and infinite delay creating an unsettling atmosphere, while '21:12' goes dark and robotic in in its plundering of early 80s post-punk electronic works for inspiration. And it works Void Axis is tense and dark, and clinical and difficult in a stark analogue way.

Void Axis isn't an album to engage with on an emotional level: there's no engagement or resonance here.

Sonically, I'm reminded in some ways of Dr Mix and the Remix's Wall Of Sound – the album released by Eric Debris post-Metal Urbain through Rough Trade in 1979 and which provide a blueprint for both The Jesus and Mary Chain and Big Black. Being one of my all-time favourite albums, this is a good thing: Void Axis is spectacularly primitive and claustrophobic and insular. And in its revisiting the technologies and production values of almost 40 years ago, Void Axis is also imbued with a certain sense of authenticity, despite its being spectacularly out of step with, well, pretty much any zeitgeist. Let's face it, no-one else sounded like Dr Mix back then, and nor has anyone before or since, and the same is true of the drum-machine thump-led treble overload of Big Black.

But ultimately, what sells Void Axis is that is doesn't sound like any other album. MAP 71 have found their niche.', September 2018

'It is 1984 and I have been introduced to Anne Clark by our local college radio station. It is my first time. Her Croydon accent punches its way through stabs of analogue synthesizer. If I am her target (oh, if only), then her aim is true. I am transfixed. She sounds smart and beautiful and perfectly English. In 1984, these are the three most important things in the world to me.

Clark is now remembered as a seminal avant-gardist of the period. Her Pressure Points – released in 1985 and featuring former Ultravox front-man John Foxx – offered the radio-friendly "Heaven." But a dust up with Richard Branson meant the cancellation of a U.S. tour, and any chance of mass appeal.

Fast forward three and a half decades, and Map 71 lands in my in-box with album number four: Void Axis. How have I missed this? Brighton's Lisa Jayne (poetry and voice) and Andy Pyne (drums and electronics) are their own brand of smart, beautiful and perfectly English. It is 2018, and I am 17 again.

"We recognize our dancing partners. And like deviants left behind in the blitz, we never felt so alive."

I wish I could write like that.

"I had favourite shops. I never bought anything. Some places were way out of my league. I'd go in wearing cheap market T-shirts I'd messed around with and pretend I didn't like the colour of a dress that cost a week's wages."

She is every wonderful girl I went to high school with.

Pyne, on the other hand, is every wonderful guy I wish I was in high school. As if Jayne's words aren't sufficiently dramatic, his soundtracks are brutalism come to life. When she talks about bombs, he sounds like an ambulance. When she talks about sex, he sounds like Times Square in its pre-Giuliani heyday.

"Their x-ray eyes make me wish this didn't always look like my first time."

More more more.', September 2018

'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!'