Acoustic guitar duo MAP (Max Gilkes and Pete Harris) created this instrumental gem in 2002, remixing and mastering the five tracks featured on the original ‘Flying Without Wings’ EP with 5 new tracks. If you have ever watched BBC’s ‘Gardeners World’ or various other programmes of that ilk you will have almost certainly heard tracks from this album…
The View From Here
“It’s been four years since Birmingham guitar duo Max Gilkes and Pete Harris released their debut EP, ‘Flying Without Wings’, but a follow-up’s finally surfaced.
I don’t pretend to be well versed in appreciating the virtuosity of instrumental guitar techniques but I know what I like and this is up there with the best of them. Ten numbers (including the five from the EP), played entirely on two acoustic guitars, with influences derived from folk, classical, world and jazz musics. ‘Lost In Lagos’ is self-evidently steeped in an African groove, ‘Waltz of Ten Tigers’ and ‘Rhumba’ cross the continents to soak up gypsy and flamenco flavours with ‘Soledad’ continuing the Spanish moods in less energetic (but no less graceful) form while ‘Glassillaun’ finds them sitting outside an Irish cottage ruminating on the rugged beauty of the countryside.
Variously ruminative and exuberant and sounding invigoratingly crisp and live it’s far from the sterile or ‘muso’ experience instrumental albums can often be, and their simple, unadorned cover of The Beatles’ ‘I Will’ is quite simply gorgeous.
The Birmingham Post
The View From Here
“You’d think that here’s a fairly limited musical palette to be had from the combination of two acoustic guitars but in the hands of Birmingham’s MAP whole continents of sound are conjured from 12 nylon strings. This their full length debut following a couple of well received EP’s is rather splendid and nothing at all like Gordon Giltrap.
Pete Harris and Max Gilkes share a musical telepathy that gives their ten compositions that certain edge. It’s a short hop from this to dreaded buskerdom or, worse, wine bar noodling, but – fear not – you can play this at home without keeping an eye on the door for the taste police.
Whether approximating African high life guitars (Lost in Lagos) or heading down cerebral roads (Sweet Nothing), this is impressive stuff. A cover of Paul McCartney’s saccharine I Will was perhaps unadvised, but when your fans include Madonna ,George Michael and Anthony Worral-Thompson, you know you must be doing something right. If you are a Slipknot fan, stay clear, but if you’ve got sliding doors leading out to the barbecue on the patio, this is crucial gear.”
“Instrumental music par excellence, Map’s ‘The View From Here’ is as refreshing as it is exciting. Light jazzy and inventive, the playing here touches base with a wide variety of styles including African, soul and The Beatles.
Map are Pete Harris (jazzer and leading session player) and Max Gilkes (originally a classical guitarist) and although they recorded this, their debut album, on a shoestring you’d never know – such is the quality of the production and packaging. All of the songs are either Harris or Gilkes originals (although they wrote the title track together) with the exception of a nimble take on Lennon & McCartney’s ‘I Will’. Highlights include the sprightly ‘Flying Without Wings’ which opens the record, the wistful ‘Glassillaun’, atmospheric ‘Haunted’ and the African swing of ‘Lost in Lagos’.
The superb virtuosity of Map has attracted fans such as Guy Ritchie and Madonna, Arthur Smith and George Michael with ‘The View From Here’ presenting eleven superbly crafted reasons why.”
“Although the duo of Julian Bream and John Williams enjoyed
a vogue in the early 1970s, and more recently the California Guitar Trio has made some attractive and engaging discs, acoustic guitar tends to be thought of as more for players than listeners. Which is what makes this debut album by MAP so appealing. Since the ‘Flying Without Wings’ EP was released four years ago, the duo has emerged with a potent synthesis of rock and classical idioms, combining power chords and intricate passagework in a way that goes deeper than mere stylistic fusion. ‘The View From Here’ continues the process with satisfying flair and integrity.
The disc opens with the boisterous ‘Flying Without Wings’, its melody ranging freely over vibrant chords, then follows the wistful interplay of ‘Glassillaum’, vividly evocative of a village on the West Irish coast. ‘The View From Here’ has a soulful, ruminative feel, its chordal melody contrasting with the easy tunefulness of ‘Sweet Nothing’. ‘The Rhumba’ puts the inimitable dance routine breezily through its paces, not without a harmonic twist or two, while ‘Haunted’ conjures a timeless nostalgia.
‘I Will’ is the only foray into cover territory here, a pensive and intimate rethink of the Lennon and McCartney original. After the exuberant ‘The Waltz of Ten Tigers’, one track that emphatically does not live up to its name, ‘Soledad’ continues the Spanish influence with a gently undulating melody that is undeniably the emotional core of the album. ‘Lost in Lagos’ is a scintillating impression of life in a diverse and unpredictable environment, closing the album in uninhibited and upbeat mood.
Superbly recorded, with a life-like guitar sound that conveys the crucial element of contrast between the players, this is a refreshingly creative release that invites frequent listening. Anyone who may have questioned the musical value of such a combination is in for a pleasurable surprise.”