‘Maps’ is the debut EP from Chicago-based experimental punk band Lower Automation, produced by noted production guru Sanford Parker. It comes at a time when punk is not quite at the heights it once was, and innovation is definitely welcome. Going into this EP, which runs at about eighteen minutes, I was hoping for the best, having heard echoes of the Dillinger Escape Plan in the song ‘Decorated’ on their bandcamp page before the full release. Whilst not reaching the ‘best of the best’ category, the EP does not disappoint; it’s intense, chaotic and does everything a good EP should.
We kick off with ‘Ring’ and waste no time getting in to the spiralling and unpredictable rhythms which become a staple of the band’s sound. The vocals do take a little getting used to, but this is par for the course on a punk record and once the song gets in to full swing the singing fits in perfectly.
Songs two and three, ‘Decorated’ and ‘Break Room Curators’ are a strong point for the album, with the band’s unique flavour of punk coming into its own. The bass is prominently featured at points in these songs, with the rumbling of the lower tones really complimenting the staccato craziness of the guitar above it. ‘Break Room Curators’ runs as the shortest song on the EP at just under two minutes but it doesn’t need much more. It’s intense and has a great hardcore punk feel.
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‘The Cartographer’ and ‘Scissor Lapses’ slow the EP down a little, but this is a welcome variation and keeps the album fresh with some interesting melodies, some almost psychedelic interludes and great lyrical flow. ‘Scissor Lapses’ is particularly interesting with its longer run-time setting it apart as a closer. This is definitely helped by a three minute outro which overstays it’s welcome a little, but does a job as an effective bow out for the EP.
All in all ‘Maps’ is a solid EP, doing what it should, giving us a good, consistent flavour of what Lower Automation are looking to do, while also providing enough variation to keep it interesting. Serves as a good taster for things to come but also exciting in its own right. I’m definitely looking forward to a full length album.
‘Maps’ is out now and available on Bandcamp.
This Lower Automation Review was written by Matthew Amery, a Gigsoup Contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.