Thursday, August 28, 2008

Swell Maps - Jane from Occupied Europe (1980)

As promised, here is the Swell Maps' second full-length 'Jane from Occupied Europe,' as gloriously cacophonous a record as its predecessor. While I was writing my last post, I forgot to mention just how successfully evocative the Swell Maps' album artwork was. The sounds within 'Marineville' seem to leap forth from the blazing, barely contained fury of its cover, and with 'Jane' the songs perfectly capture the sense of desolation that accompanies its art, echoing the eerie, quiet aftermath of destruction. But enough about that; to the songs! "Border Country," "Helicopter Spies," and my personal favorite "Cake Shop," would all have fit quite nicely on 'A Trip to Marineville,' sharing that album's sense of reckless, charming naivete and anarchic joy, and the freaked-out, kraut-punk bliss of "Big Maz in the Desert" and "...Vs. the Mangrove Delta Plan" is the stuff of post-punk perfection.

This record hangs together more fluidly than 'A Trip to Marineville,' and while that album's fragmented schizophrenia may be the reason why it's my favorite of the two, I cannot deny the brilliant, unified work that is 'Jane from Occupied Europe.' It is at once a coherent piece and an album on the verge of collapse as sounds drift in and out seemingly at random, creating nightmarish dreamscapes of beautifully dissonant noise. I've gone on enough; simply put, you need this album and the Swell Maps in your life. Coming up next will be most of the singles released by the Maps during their existence, including the immortal "Read About Seymour" and "Let's Build a Car."

- Ariel


Melvillain said...

Thanks guys! Your the best!

Tim said...

I first heard this group from your previous download. I don't think, after listening to "A Trip to Marineville," that I've ever heard a smarter group. They make brilliant musical decisions. Beautiful melodies behind a facade of punk nihilism. These guys were thinking and living at the same time. Can't thank you enough for giving me this gift. Got a new favorite group. (Until your next post.)

Ariel said...

A convert! I’m so thrilled by your reaction; this is exactly why I started this blog. Thank you for making this whole enterprise worthwhile. I don’t think we’ll see ever see another band quite like the Maps on this blog again, though. Of course, that’s what made them so brilliant.

the bagman said...

From the descriptions, I'm looking forward to hearing these two records. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for putting this up. I bought this record from Rough Trade on the day it was released and spent the next few weeks wearing it out to the constant amusement of my friends who found the Maps completely baffling. One of my favourite records by my favourite band.

Kathy said...

1. I am the owner of the Copyright in question.

2. The work is: Swell Maps "Jane From Occupied Europe"

3. Link:

4. Our website:

5. Contact: Secretly Canadian
attn: Chris Swanson
1499 West 2nd Street
Bloomington, IN 47403
(812) 961-2571 ext 222

6. I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agents, or the law.

7. The information in this notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, I am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.