Maps of Norway tonight at the Turf Club
Maps of Norway, photographed by gragschaal.
Take a gander at the history of map making. Look at those old weather-beaten parchments of the "here be dragons" stripe, where coastlines were eyeballed by devoted opium addicts, and the results had more art appeal than navigational application. An age when the great European nations yawned like mythical beasts at endless oceans, abstract documents of a time when the Earth was, for all intents and purposes, flat.
This seems to be the cartographical inspiration behind the Twin Cities quartet Maps of Norway. Their songs are full of intricate lines that lead to places that exist only in deep imagination. There are fearsome mountain ranges in each piece of songcraft. There are fjords and rivers and things concretely real. But these are maps of wanderings-- their songs are the lofty stuff of fantasy and dream, and tonight, the four-piece demonstrates their fine sense of adventure at the Turf Club.
Maps of Norway have spent the last couple years in sporadic activity, teasing their fan base with shows few and far between, and releasing the stellar full length Die Off Songbird. It's a successful business model-- due to a fair bit of camera shyness and seclusion, a Maps of Norway song has a greater gravity than some of their dutifully clock-punching brethren.
On stage, the four are consummate pros. As they indicated in an October 2008 feature in City Pages, a good Maps of Norway show is an execution of unerring precision (spoken like any good map maker). While singer Rebecca Leigh performs with the vocal and performative abandon of a dervish, guitarist Eric Hanson ekes only the most exotic extracts from his guitar and compliment of pedals, as stoic and determined as a statue of Atlas bearing the world.
Seeing a band that is at once this exact and this malleable is uncommon. It doesn't matter what map guides you on this humid, disorienting Wednesday. Tonight, all roads lead to the Turf Club.
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