Mr. Maps – Wire Empire (2011)

Label: lofly

Format: Digital and CD

Release Date: 15/01/2011



When you hear the phrase “Brisbane music”, what comes to mind? The ironic, self-aware pop of The Go-Betweens? The swing-for-the-fences, stadium-ready grandeur of Powderfinger? The urgent, sneering, fuck-the-world aesthetic of The Saints? Whatever your answer, it’s unlikely that moody, instrumental post-rock will rate a mention. Yet Brisbane is where Mr. Maps are based, and it just goes to show that a band’s musical style cannot just be defined by their location.

The lack of vocals on the band’s debut album Wire Empire gives off a sense of disembodiment, though a sense of warmth runs through these 10 tracks. Wire Empire is an immersive listen. These are complex arrangements that demand full attention – lest you miss the finer points – but it works just as well in the background, as the subconscious mind happily rides out the peaks. This is tough music to criticise. Objectively, there is very little ?wrong? here. The bass swoons, the piano twinkles, the cello yawns; the guitars either shimmer with distortion or ring clean, depending on the mood that’s attempting to be summoned.

‘Hundred Hour Flight’, in particular, challenges Mogwai’s best moments. From the fade-in of scattershot drums and soaring guitars played right up near the pickups, it morphs into an elegant passage that remains unpredictable, yet thrilling, across its six-plus minutes. But to pick out highlights is to miss the point, in a way. Wire Empire was clearly designed to be consumed in single sittings. And once you start, it’s very difficult to stop, as each track uses different tones and sonics to tell entirely disparate, wordless stories.

Regardless of its geographic ties, Wire Empire is an intelligent, nuanced post-rock masterpiece. Whether the band – a collection of 20-somethings – hold any allegiance to that particular genre is besides the point. What they’ve done here is quite remarkable.

Andrew McMillen, Mess+Noise