Telefon Tel Aviv, just wow, I’m astonished and speechless about this record. This is unbelievably good music, it amazes me it took me this long to discover this album despite the 2004 release date. Labeled as electronic music, for the most part I have to agree with that, but spend some time with this and you will discover that deep inside this is all held together by some other elements, such as blatant downtempo moments here and there, some other smooth and warm mellow moments, and the list could go on.
This album produces a strange feeling in me, because sometimes it tends to calm me down with its downtempo attitude, it makes everything seem to go in slow motion around you, but some other times despite its chill nature it makes me feel like I can’t keep up with the sudden burst of stuff that’s going on through my head while listening to it, it’s insane. But the part that I like is that all of this happens while this manages to remain civilized and never feels like it is trying too hard to produce such emotions, it just let things happen and that is kind of what makes it go almost undetected until it is too late, and all you will have left to do is nod in approval.
Roughly half of the album incorporates guest vocals, and the rest is composed of instrumental tracks, and one very interesting detail is that it was not until a lot, lot later and a handful of full listens that I noticed it, and that I believe it’s because the quality of the tracks doesn’t depend on it. I’m not saying that the vocal tracks are forgettable, it has more to do with the instrumental tracks rising up the bar to keep up with the vocal counterpart, like they were going “ok, we will not have a vocal lead in this song, and never mind that, we will make this instrumental track so darn good that no one will even notice that”, and if they ever said that, let me tell you, mission accomplished.
Maybe the only criticism I would dare to give to this album would be that some of the tracks sound very much alike, and even there I fail at criticizing it, because if a song sounds really good, what would stop you from doing something that sounds that good again? You know, it’s not like you’re repeating yourself, it’s more like you’re trying to do something new starting from something you’ve done before. It’s not a big deal though, you will notice the similarity between songs, but you won’t feel like you’re listening to the same song over and over again.
For some reason, Map Of What Is Effortless feels a lot shorter than its 45 minute length. I’m not sure if this is just me, but whenever I hit the play button, it feels like it were just 20 minutes before the full album is over. I mean, this certainly doesn’t feel like an EP, but something is going on in the background that I haven’t been able to put my finger on. Whatever it is, it works every single time.
A helpless lover of downtempo myself, my favorite tracks from this album were undoubtedly Bubble And Spike, What It Is Without The Hand That Wields It, and At The End Of The World You Will Still Float. Loving those title names by the way, what is a good song anyway if you can’t name it with a good and vague name?
I haven’t been able to listen to some of the more recent stuff that this duo did before the tragic death of one of the members back in 2009 (two days after the release of their latest full length album actually), but I have to tell you, these two guys knew what they were doing.