on 13 August 2003
There's nothing like a roll in the hay on a warm summer's day! Have a listen to this gem from Mr Alex Cowan aka TmJuke and you'll know what I'm talking about. What we have here is a ray of hazy melody that you can't fail to smile at. Coming out of the awesome Tru Thoughts stable, the Brighton breeding ground for such modern day music maestros as Quantic, Jon Kennedy and Bonobo, we are treated here to an intricately composed and arranged slice of bliss coming right and exact out of Juke's bedroom. You can almost imagine him recording this post dinner pre-bed horizontally. Delving into a pool of talent as far afield as Canada, Juke does not stop at the stock dope beats and downtemponess that tends to clutter the market today. This classically trained guitarist and pianist has pushed the tempo to actually get that leg that barely hangs of the chunky sofa, you know the one I mean, tapping into oblivion. The formula is addictive, fusing crisp beats, sometimes tough sometimes blunted, with teasing pianos stabs, horn stabs and guitar licks. The vocals are earthy yet smooth especially on the brilliant "Playground Games". Tru Thoughts's Lady microphone queen Alice Russell (also prominent on the Quantic Soul Orchestra material) is on hand to lend sassy swagger to this my standout track. Elsewhere Canadian B-boys Bread and Water bring the essentials to the table on "Get it Together." Their quirky style could easily be mistaken for the Pharcyde, which is praise indeed. Rup represents for the UK on the socially conscious Wilderness Kids. The percussion is great throughout especially the drums on Form to Follow. The final word is this. Go out and buy it. Its good music to respire, inspire and relax. Its pointless resisting. The front cover shows a network of toilet paper woven around some trees deep in sunkissed forestry. Well this right here is the luxury kleenex quilted of instrumental beats and vocal treats. There's something pretty special happening down buy the sea. Be a part of it.
on 19 March 2004
I'm always dubious that long, praise riddled reviews might be the work of friends of the artist, or worse, some poor work experience lackey at their record label. Having listened to this album however, I can confirm that the long, praise riddled customer review of 'Maps from the Wilderness' is entirely justified.
For TM Juke to follow in the musical footsteps of label-mate Quantic would have been enough to merit such adulation. However, Mr. Juke doesn't stop at this - On 'Maps From the wilderness' he beats out his own path with an assuredness and originality which belies the fact that this is his debut album.
With guest vocals from the prodigiously talented and increasingly ubiquitous Alice Russell (also on Tru-Thoughts), and contributions from Canadian MCs Bread and Water and the UK's own Rup, TM Juke combines all that is good in a beats-based album and sets it apart with his own brand of jazzy, soulful and edgy style.
Listening to 'Maps From The Wilderness' is a breath of fresh air compared to so much of the Hip-Hop released today. An album made to sound like an album , 'Maps' is both carefully constructed and intelligently sequenced. The vibe all the while is on 'chillin' and 'Maps' is thus far more a record for the mind than the feet. There is a downtempo funkiness present here but all the time the music has been designed to focus your attention on the subtle touches and boy are there plenty of sweet ones! Take 'Map Two' for example, with its shuffling beat and many musical colours it has the power to mesmerise you and listening to it becomes all absorbing. Even Juke's use of a repetitive riff (so often the terminal downfall for a Hip-Hop record) is skillfully done here because the track features so many nice little musical distractions (a sweet tinkling piano, haunting wind chimes etc) that you really don't notice the repetition at all.
Even the cover artwork of this cd adds to the package. Placing your mind in a place of solitude amongst nature somewhere in a wood, the music contained within the packaging has as many shades and shafts of light as one might see peering through trees in the middle of nowhere. 'Maps' is pretty much the ultimate chill out record and testimony to Juke's skill is how his music even inspires rapper, Rup, to greatness on the albums best track 'Wilderness Kids'. Thoughtful lyrics about natural things and REAL life (not guns or wealth or egos) along with an unobtrusive delivery sets this song apart from thousands of other rap tunes by rappers with nothing worthwhile to say anymore.
My one criticism of this album is that at times I feel as if TM Juke could have shortened one or two of the tracks. 'Get It Together' for example features a rap by Bread & Water which is essentially done and dusted by 3 min 40 seconds yet Juke pads the tune out to over 6 minutes. It sounds a bit to me as if given the choice Juke would have preferred NOT to have had so many vocal contributors to the album and thus has occasionally felt the need to 'have his say' after they have done their bit rather than leave his guests to have the last word.
This is essentially a minor blip however on an otherwise imaginative and innovative set and 'Maps From The Wilderness' is an album you need to explore.
on 15 September 2006
This CD is fairly soft, slow and very soulful. Alice Russell uplifts a few tracks with her exceptional voice. Its a fantastic chill out CD and great for all occasions. I love track one and two. A definate recommendation if you like artitsts such as quantic and peanut butter wolf.
on 14 July 2008
Ok, I'll admit, I got suckered in by the 'if you bought this, you might like this' - and I'm so glad I did. With a shelf full of lounge/chill/electronica/downtempo, call it what you will, I was on the prowl for more. After wonderful Thievery Corporation, Bonobo, Quantic, Ulrich Schnauss, Boards of Canada and Fila Brazillia purchases under my belt, I was waiting for the next classic I would discover, and this is it. Summer days in altered states.
on 4 October 2006
I voted all the other reviewers below as helpful, but couldn't resist adding something myself. I really like this. It's nice, chilled and pleasant without being boring and repetetive. Some really lush samples of singing and all kinds of playing. It sounds like TM Juke is in complete control of his medium and has really enjoyed making this.
"Oh mama I was hypnotised!"