U.S. Maple: Acre Thrills LP
One of the cleverest descriptions of a band in recent memory likened Idlewild to "a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs." The metaphor is cute, but it has no bearing on the band in question. It does, however, perfectly sum up U.S. Maple, whose cubist take on rock music often sounds like so much cacophonous clutter. But it's much more than just random no wave noise. With its fourth album, "Acre Thrills", U.S. Maple makes good on the promise of "Talker", revealing an increasingly ingenious method to its madness. The group's guitars and drums cross paths in the most unlikely places, with song structures consisting of overlapping measures and spontaneous ejaculations of sound. After a few listens, however, the rhythms become more apparent, and melodies even begin to seep out of the mess. Al Johnson, who sings like the Tasmanian Devil trying to hold in a sneeze, is all tension and—intriguingly—no release, a whoosh of snarls and spitting that's like a wound-up spring refusing to be sprung. Johnson weaves his voice in and out of each track like an instrument, constantly wavering with what sounds like improvisation but must be composition. The tightrope U.S. Maple walks is a real challenge, but when its idiosyncratic approach pays off, the result sounds unlike anything else. "Open A Rose" even boasts an honest-to-goodness big riff amidst all the carefully placed racket and uncommonly straightforward drums. What the band promotes isn't an altogether new language, but it's an unfamiliar one. It's a tongue worth learning, too, as the pleasure U.S. Maple offers under the guise of chaos is fascinating and fantastic. Black vinyl in full colour embossed sleeve with insert.