Northampton composer and producer Maps returned this month with his fourth album Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss. and headlines the MK Gallery this weekend.
The LP is Maps’ most collaborative project to date, seeing main man James Chapman join up with classical ensemble The Echo Collective as well as percussionists and guest vocalists for an album inspired by the rolling Northamptonshire countryside
Speaking about the record, Chapman said: “It's been a long time making this one and it’s nice to finally be in a place where it's out and people are reacting well to it.
“It was a long process and quite a different way of working for me.
“Maps fans are really loving it and I think with this album it has the potential to reach a wider audience because of the nature of the sounds.”
Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss. follows 2013’s Vicissitude, 2009’s Turning The Mind and Chapman’s 2007 Mercury Prize nominated debut, We Can Create.
Having previously always worked in isolation, Chapman said he knew for his fourth LP, things would be different.
He said: “I knew from the start the songs I was writing were less electronic and more geared towards working with orchestral players.
“It was a path I chose to take quite early on and it was just about trying to make it happen.
“I'm used to just sitting on my own in a darkened room making noise.
“As soon as you get other people involved it's a different process and I think I was much more open to that than I have been in the past.”
Joking it would have been “a disaster” if he tried to play all the orchestral instrumentation himself, Chapman, who currently lives in East Northamptonshire, turned to Berlin’s Echo Collective – a group also signed to Mute Records.
“I did the arrangements which was another learning experience,” he explains.
“There was a lot I learned through working with them.
“It was quite a nerve-wracking moment when they sat down to play what I’d written.
“They're really cool people and really good to work with.”
Having originally only planned on recording a few tracks with them, Chapman applied for PRS funding and was able to return to Berlin so the collective could perform on the whole album.
The album also features Matt Kelly on drums and vocals by Cecilia Fage and Rachel Kenedy.
The title of the record, Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss. came to Chapman in a dream.
He said: “It seemed fitting because it seemed to come from a subconscious place and a lot of the album is to do with memory.”
Talking about the album, Chapman picks Just Reflecting as one of his favourites on the LP.
He said: “It’s very cinematic, it has a luscious feel to it.
“I think a lot of that song was me looking back to and drawing on memories.
“A lot of this album is about looking back to childhood and a different time of your life.
“That song really touches on a feeling of escapism which I love.”
Explaining the album’s influences, he cites his Northamptonshire surroundings, saying it even subconsciously inspires him.
“Musically, influences are quite wide-ranging,” he adds.
“I do listen to a lot of classical music but there’s also things like the Beach Boys and The Byrds.”
Maps play the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes on June 1, the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival on June 27 and the Southbank Centre Purcell Room in London on July 3.
For more details, visit https://thisismaps.com