Mappe of: The Isle of Ailynn
The first melody Canadian multi-instrumentalist Tom Meikle created for his latest Mappe Of project was composed while he was on tour. The oddly constructed tune had a challenging modal structure that conjured up an alternative universe for him. With the help of the mythology and the research of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, as well as the concept albums of the prog rock and metal heroes he listened to growing up, he set out to write songs for that new reality. As the album progressed, he wrote arrangements full of unexpected twists and turns, with enough shifts in tempo and timbre to keep you wondering what’s going to happen next. Guitar, bass, drums and keyboards are often processed into unrecognizable sounds, while the cryptic lyrics—many of them using words Meikle invented—touch on natural and man-made disasters, fallen angels and redemption, with scenarios as disjointed as the musical fragments that drift in and out of focus as the songs progress. At times, the music is soothing and cinematic, with lush washes of classical strings and spacey keyboard textures filling a large sonic space, but distorted guitars and odd sound effects often shatter the spell. “Volcae”—the one song with a linear melody and verse/ chorus structure—displays Meikle’s impressive vocal range backed by a pastoral string arrangement, before it closes with a wave of distorted effects. The album closer, “Faesulae,” makes the hints of liturgical music that have been drifting throughout the album more concrete, but the churchy organ and choral chanting descends into a maelstrom of distorted instrumentation.