CD Review: Jon Mapp – The World Will End With A Bang

Jon Mapp – The World Will End With A Bang
(We Are K Records. WERK0002. CD Review by Rob Edgar)

T.S. Eliot wrote that the world will end “with a whimper”; judging by the title of bassist/composer Jon Mapp’s début album, he disagrees. The CD is 48 minutes of multi-layered solo bass guitar and is a consolidation of a number of different musical and literary ideas and influences on the musician. It is based on a poem written by Mapp which – in turn – takes its cue from Dante’s Inferno and Watership Down.

The album makes heavy use of loops, which can be a dangerous game to play as the composer runs the risk of creating a tautology, but here it really works; perhaps because the tracks are live recorded takes (using effects pedals and a laptop), there is a great deal of energy and spontaneity throughout. Indeed, the loops function more as the foundations for some striking improvisatory passages and strong melodies. All the tracks relate to each other creating the sense of an organic piece of music that begs to be listened to from beginning to end without interruption.

Harmonically, Mapp is tremendously exciting. His compositions are clearly tonal – there are many pentatonic and diatonic ideas – but the sense of key is frequently undermined; the music does not so much modulate as slip between the cracks of different scales (often employing common notes as a pivot). A successful example of this would be the Fanfare for the Owls, it’s a relatively simple major-scale theme, that is allowed to naturally branch off into new and unexpected areas whilst retaining a sense of narrative. Technically Jon’s playing is extremely dexterous and fluid, but never flashy or verbose. His use of effects is subtle too, there are pops and squeaks in places but they add greatly to the aesthetic and never overpower the music.

It is impossible to listen to The World Will End With A Bang without being firmly drawn into Mapp’s world (each track is another chapter in an expressionistic story of a journeyman’s passage into a forest as he is watched and followed by a mysterious figure). It is terrifying, dark and oppressive music; delightfully disturbing.

True to the title, the last track (The Bang) ends with a distorted, echoic explosion – but – it lingers and peters away gradually. Perhaps the world ends with a whimper after all.

The World Will End With A Bang is launched on 17th April at Lawrence Hall (University of West London), with art installations by Open Ealing.

Purchasing the album HERE, gives you a ticket to the concert, a digital download, and a physical copy of the album on the door.

Categories: miscellaneous

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