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Swell Maps – A Trip to Marineville (1979) / Jane from Occupied Europe (1980)

Swell Maps – A Trip to Marineville (1979)

Spectacularly beautiful noise courtesy of the dearly departed Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtrack -not to slight the contributions of Jowe Head, Phones Sportsman, Biggles, and John ‘Golden’ Cockrill (as listed, honest)–‘A Trip to Marineville’ is the Swell Maps’ first LP after a string of classic singles(“Read About Seymour!”)

What we get is a sheer sonic explosion of down ‘n dirty experimentalism, minimalist fury, and krautrock-influenced grooves; all performed with a jaggedly raw energy and chaotic, kitchen-sink aesthetic unmatched by any band of its–or perhaps any other–time. “

Vertical Slum,” “Midget Submarine,” and the “Full Moon in My Pocket/Blam!!/Full Moon(reprise)” suite are all bonafide classics to me; do yourself a favor and let the Swell Maps occupy a special slice of your existence if you haven’t already. Their second full-length, ‘Jane from Occupied Europe’ is forthcoming, and I’ll probably post a few essential singles too. Stay tuned. Long live the Maps! – Ariel


Swell Maps – Jane from Occupied Europe (1980)
Here is the Swell Maps’ second full-length ‘Jane from Occupied Europe,’ as gloriously cacophonous a record as its predecessor.

The sounds within ‘Marineville’ seem to leap forth from the blazing, barely contained fury of its cover, and with ‘Jane’ the songs perfectly capture the sense of desolation that accompanies its art, echoing the eerie, quiet aftermath of destruction. But enough about that; to the songs! “Border Country,” “Helicopter Spies,” and my personal favorite “Cake Shop,” would all have fit quite nicely on ‘A Trip to Marineville,’ sharing that album’s sense of reckless, charming naivete and anarchic joy, and the freaked-out, kraut-punk bliss of “Big Maz in the Desert” and “…Vs. the Mangrove Delta Plan” is the stuff of post-punk perfection.

This record hangs together more fluidly than ‘A Trip to Marineville,’ and while that album’s fragmented schizophrenia may be the reason why it’s my favorite of the two, I cannot deny the brilliant, unified work that is ‘Jane from Occupied Europe.’ It is at once a coherent piece and an album on the verge of collapse as sounds drift in and out seemingly at random, creating nightmarish dreamscapes of beautifully dissonant noise. I’ve gone on enough; simply put, you need this album and the Swell Maps in your life. Coming up next will be most of the singles released by the Maps during their existence, including the immortal “Read About Seymour” and “Let’s Build a Car.” – Ariel


Big thanks to our pal Ariel at thedoledrums

September 7, 2008 Posted by | Music_Alternative, Swell Maps, _MUSIC | 2 Comments