Map of What Is Effortless
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Map of What Is Effortless
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Telefon Tel Aviv: Joshua Eustis, Charlie Cooper. Additional personnel: Lindsay Anderson, Loyola University Chamber Orchestra. New Orleans based multi-instrumentalists Joshua Eustis and Charlie Cooper have come up with one of the most surprising and accessible electronic records in recent memory, at once underground and incredibly mainstream. Their debut album 'Fahrenheit Fair Enough' was an impressionist travelogue, combining an almost scientific, melodic, compositional approach, with organic, jazz infused instrumentation and digital manipulations. Like all good adventures, Map of What is Effortless is diverse. From the Ron Isley-like vocal stylings of L.A. songwriter Damon Aaron and the detached chanteuse musings of L'Altra vocalist Lindsay Anderson on the big vocal cuts here ('I Lied' and 'My Week Beats Your Year') - to the juxtaposition of the Loyola University Chamber Orchestra with synthetic percussion on possibly my favourite track, the string drenched title cut. Map of What is Effortless is Telefon Tel Aviv flirting with big arenas and the homespun style of old, branching out from what they knew and cornering their muse with gorgeous results. This is very definitely a mainstream-destined album, much in the same way that Ulrich Schnauss went beyond a contained fanbase, and looks at electronic music from a much more casual, utilitarian vantage point.
...warm tones of a vintage Rhodes piano and a swell of strings ...both strangely loopy and deeply soulful. -- Vibe
TTA have grown impatient with the sounds of house and techno. TTA draws on everything from Outkast to Pink Floyd. -- New York Magazine
Telefon have been Nine Inch Nails' and Eminem's remixers of choice... gorgeous orchestration, slippery textures, and meaty beats. -- Esquire
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Top customer reviews
The thing Telefon Tel Aviv has been able to do so brilliantly is create, polish, and perfect a sound that is as different as it is gorgeous, and yet it remains abundant in sound and concept.
The first element that draws in attention, say, if you were flipping through a song from Map on the radio, is the elegant mastery of their signature beat sound. An enormous spectrum of traditional drums and glitchy sounds come together, weaving in and out of the tempo and melody. Most of the time, throughout the steady, down-tempo electronic music, little blips will pop out hear and there, adding an impressive level of detail that I have never heard in music before.
Coupled with their tendency to "bit crush" sounds and instruments from time to time (looping it extremely fast), the beats themselves have a powerful effect in and of themselves.
The use of a rhoades piano and an acoustic/shimmering electric guitar are common with Telefon Tel Aviv, but a few songs of Map are actually joined by a live orchestra. It is the addition of real strings when merged with the tweaked out beats that truly makes Map of What is Effortless an album of epic proportions. Nothing like this has been done so well before, and when you reach the climax of the last song (At the Edge), you'll be craving more sound from the most brilliant electronic artists of our time.
Does "My Week Beats Your Year" appeal to a crowd that might not be interested in down-tempo IDM? Sure. Are Damon's vocals reminiscent of other R&B singers? I don't see why not. Does that, in any way, take away from the ultimate appeal of the album? Not if you're into something that will raise the bar beyond anything that has been attempted in this genre before.
The vocals are well placed for the most part, but do occasionly over step the beautiful sound TTA produces. I also felt that occasionly the lyrics could fit TTA's style more and be edited to match the music's blip style. But these are minor arguments against a really great album for this group. I recommend buying both albums, because each one is a great work that evolves, not stagnates. I'd actually give the album 4 1/2 stars.. but since we have no 4 1/2.. 5 it is.
The first album suceeded because it did sound so "effortless". THe music was never over dramatic or too glitchy; it was just a perfect balance of natural acoustics and experimental beat programming combined with some of the most love filled melodies ever commited to disk. Even the Immediate Action single was outstanding. This single was important in not only showing how superior TTA was from the rest of the electronic cognescenti (the over-hyped Prefuse 73 exposed his pretentiousness by trying to remix/improve an already perfect song) but the track was also important in showing the promise of the marriage of vocals with the beats. On this track the vocals were used more like a tool to enhance the melodic layers in the instrumentals.
on "Map" the songs come across as full blown pop ballads. On the vocal tracks the music is just a bed for the vocals which take dominance in the mix. Are the vocals bad? No. Damon Aaron's voice (which bears a resemblance to Craig David's) is a welcome addition. he appears on the second song, which i feel is the cornerstone of the album. So what's wrong with the album? another reviewer used a phrase which i feel sums it up perfectly; "self-aware". It's evident in the Miss Kitten style vocals of the ego centric "my week is better than your year" (sung by Lindsay of chicago Lindsay and Sombionix fame). it's evident in the overwrought tunes full of dynamic changes from tranquil melodies to crashing electronics and strings. it's evident in the attitude of the hipster crowd that attended the record release party(which actually may have been a bad first introduction to this album because intimate music does not work in a club setting). it just sounds like TTA was trying to make the most important album ever and fell short. There are still sublime moments on this album but "moments" seems like an insult for a group who raised the bar so high; every "moment" of every track on their first releases capitivated me. it hardly sounds "effortless" anymore.
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