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Map of What Is Effortless

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Album Review

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. Beautiful vocal performances easily float around Telefon Tel Aviv's crisp claps and melodic progressions. Each track floats on by, and that's the effortless part of it — this record is over before you know it. Highlights include the cocky "My Week Beats Your Year" and the sensitive "Nothing Is Worth Losing That," but there's hardly a weak moment here. TTA manage to not only make their first great album, but also put in the first entry for the best of 2004.

Customer Reviews

A Soul Mapped

Telefon Tel Aviv figured out the wrongs and rights. With a second attempt, Map of What is Effortless marks their characteristic sound which has matured beautifully into more thoughtful orchestrations. They have shaped their own identity within the electronic realm, breaking the limits of sound and soul. The first track, When It Happens It Moves All By Itself begins with a nostalgic reflection from their previous album but eventually cracks open about halfway into a magnificent swell of ambience resembling an awakening. This feeling continues with the second track, I Lied. Damon Aaron’s guest vocals add a deepening resonance into the listener’s ever expanding heart. My Week Beats Your Year pulls you back to earth-the hustle, the bustle, the fast and the way too beautiful. An absolutely gorgeous track, Nothing is Worth Losing That pulls off reminiscent rhythm and blues for the neo-soul searching for meaning within the 21st Century and beyond.


Firstly, I will only evaluate this album based on its high points, simply because they are so frequent and more picturesque than anything I have heard in music since the Art of Noise's The Seduction of Claude Debussy. The thing Telefon Tel Aviv has been able to do so brilliantly is create, polish, and perfect a sound that is as different as it is gorgeous, and yet it remains abundant in sound and concept. The first element that draws in attention, say, if you were flipping through a song from Map on the radio, is the elegant mastery of their signature beat sound. An enormous spectrum of traditional drums and glitchy sounds come together, weaving in and out of the tempo and melody. Most of the time, throughout the steady, down-tempo electronic music, little blips will pop out hear and there, adding an impressive level of detail that I have never heard in music before. Coupled with their tendency to "bit crush" sounds and instruments from time to time (looping it extremely fast), the beats themselves have a powerful effect in and of themselves. The use of a rhoades piano and an acoustic/shimmering electric guitar are common with Telefon Tel Aviv, but a few songs of Map are actually joined by a live orchestra. It is the addition of real strings when merged with the tweaked out beats that truly makes Map of What is Effortless an album of epic proportions. Nothing like this has been done so well before, and when you reach the climax of the last song (At the Edge), you'll be craving more sound from the most brilliant electronic artists of our time. Does "My Week Beats Your Year" appeal to a crowd that might not be interested in down-tempo IDM? Sure. Are Damon's vocals reminiscent of other R&B singers? I don't see why not. Does that, in any way, take away from the ultimate appeal of the album? Not if you're into something that will raise the bar beyond anything that has been attempted in this genre before.

Moving and Sexy

This is by far a favorite CD from a favorite Duo. Simply Awesome.


Formed: 1999 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

New Orleans, LA experimental electronic duo Telefon Tel Aviv -- high school friends Joshua Eustis and Charles Cooper -- formed in 1999. After a four-song demo made its way to John Hughes III's Hefty label, the duo issued their debut album, Fahrenheit Fair Enough, in September 2001. This was just less than two weeks after the limited Midwest opening of New Port South, a film written by Hughes' brother James that featured material from the album, in addition to recordings by John Hughes III's TTA-assisted...
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Map of What Is Effortless, Telefon Tel Aviv
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