Mappe Of is the nom-de-plume of Tom Meikle, a Toronto-based folk artist with avant-garde leanings.
Meikle's 2017 debut, A Northern Star, was, by his own admission, a hotchpotch of songs he'd written up to that point with no thoughts about making a cohesive statement of artistic intent. For his second album he seeks to put matters right by embracing a full-blown concept located in a fantasy world utilising an invented language and archaic vocabulary.
The nine tracks, all with one word titles, place everyday struggles in a mythological space allowing him to “exaggerate and extrapolate the questions I’d been asking myself about the world over the past couple of years.” The songs therefore affirm that it is sometimes necessary to go somewhere make-believe to express what is real.
The parallels between reality and fantasy are relatively easy to unpick. Kintail, for instance, evokes a symbolic battle between capitalism and nature, where evil destroyers have built "castles on sacred ground".
Retreating into mystical forests offers no escape. "I never knew this place to be so violent", the singer laments in lead single Ailynn as his pastoral calm is threatened.
Icovellavna is the 'everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' centrepiece, a nine-minute prog-rocky symphony full of swooning strings and complex time signatures.
Meikle's fragile, effeminate vocals are described as "velvet-soft" just in case we had any lingering doubts about how deeply our sensitive hero feels about the nasty brutishness of the modern world.
Ultimately, the weight of bombastic ambition proves too heavy a burden laden as it is with adornments drawn from early Genesis and/or late dream pop.
Hear 'The Isle of Ailynn' at Bandcamp