Electronic music is becoming a medium, rather than a genre. Instead of branching off into sub-sub-sub-genres, the use of synths, laptops, keyboards etc. is becoming more of an acceptable practice outside of EDM, new wave, post-punk and electropop. UK-based James Chapman, aka Maps, is sort of a traditionalist in a sense that he’s making simple, electro-based pop in the same vein as New Order and other post-punk/dream pop groups have. Vicissitude is both ambient and danceable, but never uninteresting.
“A.M.A” kicks off the album with a familiar electronic kick and synth sound, with Chapman singing over his pulsing synths like Michael Score did with “I Ran.” Tracks like “I Heard Them Say,” “Vicissitude” and “Left Behind” are painfully (yet enjoyable) dream pop. Usually, when you think of any shoegaze-y subgenre mixed with electronic music, chillwave comes to mind. That’s not the case here. “Insignificant Others” is where Chapman’s productional prowess shines. Industrial, bass-y and just overall vibed out of its face, this track is bound to end up on some LA DJ’s remix list. Better yet, it could be sampled on some cool swag rap album.
Chapman has been a proven musician for almost a decade, but Vicissitude doesn’t sport enough variety or intensity to make it his best release. What it does have is the ability to evoke certain emotions without having to play to current tastes. A visceral effect, rather than a kitschy one, is what makes electronic work these days. People identify with these bleeps and bloops, so maybe people will identify, just enough, with Chapman to fully grasp this album.