Thomas Dolby, the iconic '80s star whose smash hits 'She Blinded Me With Science' and 'Hyperactive' helped define the MTV generation/revolution, will break his 20-year silence with A Map of the Floating City. The album, featuring appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley, Imogen Heap and Eddi Reader, will be will be released on Lost Toy People Records as a physical CD, and in a special Deluxe Edition featuring a second disc of instrumentals and bonus tracks. Of the album, which is divided into three parts, Dolby says, "The new songs are organic and very personal. A Map of the Floating City is a travelogue across three imaginary continents: In Amerikana I'm reflecting with affection on the years I spent living in the U.S.A., and my fascination with its roots music. Urbanoia is a dark place, a little unsettling… I'm not a city person. And in Oceanea I return to my natural home on the windswept coastline."
Steve Tibbetts is the thinking-man's guitar player whose music spans a host of influences – folk, jazz, rock, ethnic, modern classical – without being bound by any of them. Opening with a tabla-driven folksy cover of Led Zeppelin's "Black Mountain Slide," the album leads us through a collection of original pieces written by Tibbetts and his band members that are full of rich tone colors and inventive rhythms. His main instrument is acoustic guitar, but he also uses guitar synth, dobro, kalimba and something called a pianolin, while his colleagues add tabla, cello, steel drums and assorted percussion.
One of the distinguishing features of Schubert's C major Quintet is its scoring for two cellos instead of the more usual two violas. It seems likely that Boccherini's and Georges Onslow's preference for the second cello influenced Schubert's choice of this instrumentation, whose greater expressiveness and richer sonority are particularly suited to this music.
Map of What Is Effortless was probably anything but effortless in its creation. Crisp, majestic, and swirling, this sophomore record trumps their debut in spades. Fahrenheit Fair Enough (the group's 2001 fine enough in its own right debut) noodled with a mix of post-rock aesthetics filtered through beats split apart on a G4 and chilled, where Map brings the grandeur of radio-inflected soul, motion picture soundtrack pads, and even a little bravado with a production frame that kills anything found on the dial.