"Far out. That's far out. Far out." It is an hour before Maps And Atlases are to hit the stage and Bassist Shiraz Dada has been accosted by two friends as he wanders through the room. "The new album is really great," says one fan.
"Really?" Dada replies. "That's far out."
"You're music is really important to me" says the other fan.
"Far out, so far out". And then Dada pushes pass them to speak to a Webster Hall manager.
What's with the damaged Hippie act?
Perhaps it's my expectations that are wrong. M&A's new album Beware And Be Thankful, is an ultra melodic take on indie experimental bands like the Dirty Projectors and, to a lesser extent Animal Collective. Lesser because it is not electronic induced. One of the best albums of the year is jeeryrigged for college kids and the Bible according to Pitchfork.
But M&A have been around for 8 years now, and the latest album is not what they are.
On stage at the Studio At Webster Hall on Monday, they were a jam band noodling and improvising on spacey, complicated string modulations fronted by Dave Davison who,stick thin with long stringy light brown hair and a beard, seems to to have wander in from a three day festival of peace love and music,. They were the next Phish.
The new songs are played straight up, with Dave's mumbling vocals and spaced quietude , fronting a band who can't do much but work on the songs but tell us to clap. There is a reason why Phish are such stick in the muds on stage, the music is hard to play. M&A have precisely the same problem.
by recording a very commercial sounding album, the four piece have widened their audience immediately and definitely. If they changed their approach and actually played where their natural audience as, opening for the Dead in the wilds of Upper New York, they would be an immediate force on the scene. Quite capable of playing a ten minute fan fave off their first album "Living Decoration", it has a bell like clang to the guitar and off-melody counter cuteness: the band isn't a rock jam band, they aren't seeking a groove to ride, they are looking for a thought to be completed. Perhaps it is closer to harmolodics. At the end there is a back and forth drum solo that neither ebbs nor flows nor moves, but is like a stilted conversation.
The audience in the back is polite but the fans at the front are mesmerized: college boys with their mouths agape: this is how rock bands become huge cult bands, this is boys own secret society stuff. Far out.