“Mappa Mundi Named One of The Deli Magazine’s Best Emerging Artists for 2016” — The Deli Magazine
A full five years stood between Mappa Mundi’s debut album and its second: 2015’s At Sea. It was worth it. The entire affair overflows with emotion and epigram, meted out in equal parts, and underscored by a mass of steampunk horns and strings. Indeed, no word is too ornamental here—just keep your thesaurus nearby.
“Mappa Mundi Nominated for Best of NYC, Emerging Artists” — The Deli
Almost a year ago exactly, New York chamber pop six-piece released ‘At Sea,’ which is more of a sonic novella than a traditional EP. On such wistful, guitar-strummed songs and horn-sloped tracks such as “So Obscure” and “Mirabelle” (streaming below), the Adam B Levine-led band imbued poignant scenes of love and loss with a literary purity that was not only impressive in its vividness but preciously moving in its effect. Mappa Mundi plays Pete’s Candy Store on 2/5.
“In a Word: Monumental” — The Aquarian Weekly
Mappa Mundi is a chamber pop band from Brooklyn and its five members hail from various backgrounds, including punk, jazz, Americana, and classical chamber music; while many groups are composed of musicians from varying backgrounds, few have successfully merged those influences as well as this outfit. Every song on this EP sounds different, yet coherent, as if Murder By Death, Voltaire, and R.E.M sat down to write an album together. At Sea, in keeping with its classical chamber influences, follows an almost symphonic form, with “So Obscure” and “Out Here” acting as the first movement, or sonata, “Mirabelle” being the adagio, “Right” and “Lost” as the minuet, and “A Blunt Object, Oh Robert” as the rondo, or final movement.
“So Obscure” and “Out Here” are both relatively upbeat, and introduce the themes of the album in a mid-tempo, lively way, creating an Americana-soaked orchestral house band sound. With acoustic guitar strums, light drum and string presence, and singer Adam Levine’s slight vocal twang, the first track has a clearly country vibe, however, this is quickly traded off for a waltz-style rhythm with heavy string and electric guitar punctuation, as well as soaring trumpet solos, and deceptively low-key verses.
The halfway point of At Sea is “Mirabelle,” a mostly acoustic ballad that builds up to include contrasting violin/cello melodies and a touching bassline, with drummer Matt Moore breaking in for a final chorus. “Right” mixes bittersweet lyrics with a deceitfully cheerful instrumentation, going so far as to introduce ukulele noodling throughout the song. “Lost,” the following track, includes heavily syncopated and uncommon rhythms with acoustic guitar picking, but builds up to an impressive ending that incorporates an electric guitar and violin sharing a melodic call-and-response.
“Now, I am become Death.” Lyrics like that are bound to get your attention, regardless of who’s singing them. Now add what sounds like a matador’s fanfare behind those lyrics, and you’ll hear the true power of the statement. The final track on Mappa Mundi’s At Sea is, by far, the strongest and longest one on the EP, running at over seven minutes. Dynamic changes rule “A Blunt Object, Oh Robert,” with periods of silence separating the reserved verses from the overdramatic choruses quoting Robert Oppenheimer, who himself was quoting the Bhagavad Gita.
What started as a simple indie band playing a country-influenced love song transformed into a small orchestra dismantling centuries of musical evolution, and repurposing them into an amazing self-contained symphony.
In A Word: Monumental
—by Dean Scordilis, April 22, 2015
“Mappa Mundi: Wave Runner” — The Aquarian Weekly
Not to be confused with a Medieval navigational map (but just as interesting), Mappa Mundi are playing a show at The Living Room in Brooklyn. The nine-piece band just released their sophomore EP installment, At Sea. And With five years since And In This Way We Come Unmoored, the nonet is sure to deliver some well-waited experimental folk with dashes of Adam B. Levine’s lovely voice. See the mini orchestra live March 7.
-by Jamila Aboushaca, March 3, 2015
“This is excellent chamber folk pop… I love the band.” — Dagger ‘Zine
This is excellent chamber folk pop from the heart and mind of one Adam Levine, he’s joined by a bunch of friends here (mostly on strings, cello, violin, etc. and there’s only 6 songs but all are highly listenable. Co-produced by the talented Charles Newman. Not sure about the band name but I love the band.
Check it Out: Mappa Mundi
“…new music with depth and relevance…” — Rust Magazine
Here at the RUST Magazine offices we’ve been listening to, and appreciating, a great new offering from NYC-based chamber-pop group Mappa Mundi. It’s a 6-song themed EP entitled At Sea, and it’s a great collection of noir compositions examining the subtleties of being lost at sea… practically or interpretively. It’s heartfelt, complex music with layers of emotion and it gets our total recommendation. It reminds us a lot of The Dowry whose album The Circus and the Sea similarly builds on vintage nautical ideas, but for Mappa Mundi the focus is on artist teamwork and taking ideas into unique spaces.
“In its earlier incarnations, Mappa Mundi experimented with a lot of the traditional elements that make up rock or chamber pop. For example, we started out playing with the idea of a rock band without guitars,” says Mappa Mundi’s creative center Adam Levine. “Walking that fine line between chamber music and rock was an interesting challenge for us at the time. Eventually when we did add guitars it opened up all of these new worlds of sound for us to explore and incorporate from rock and Americana as well as classical music.” At Sea is the band’s second EP (with guitars this time) and there’s been a good amount of development since their 2010 6-song EP, And In This Way We Come Unmoored…. “It’s hard for me to describe what Mappa Mundi sounds like because we’ve all grown and changed over the past couple of years. Where I used to say that we were chamber pop, a lot of our recent stuff has really been in the realm of alt-folk or Americana. Things are constantly changing for everyone in the band and I think right now we’re all in this really positive, growing phase.”
Sharing a name with Maroon 5’s front man can confuse people, he admits. “I remember when I was playing horn in an orchestra for this Off-Broadway show and somehow some people from Maroon 5’s fan club got wind of it and started blogging about it. I thought it was kind of funny that anybody would think that Maroon 5’s Adam Levine would be playing trumpet in the pit orchestra of an Off-Broadway show. When I told this to the producer he thought we might as well go with it and see if it brought any extra people to the show.”
Orchestra gigs aside, what Adam and Mappa Mundi does, and does very well, is to craft themed music with complexity and individuality. Together with a few misfit friends, Adam has found an admirable focus and space much like The Dowry did a few years ago. Both groups of artists have found a voice for the longing we have today by exploring themes from another time and place. And that’s what makes this music so special. It’s classic. It’s timeless and it expresses itself on it’s own terms, not catering to fads or current sounds.
If you’re thirsting for new music with depth and relevance, get more info at: http://www.mappamundiband.com/
Mappa Mundi featured in Innocent Word’s IW10 — Innocent Words
For the past two years, each Friday, Innocent Words has put the spotlight on up and coming artists/bands with 10 questions we like to call IW10. The tradition continues…
-Troy Michael, Innocent Words
“A sumptuous set of songs… sublime.” — Blurt Magazine
Helmed by singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Levine, NYC’s Mappa Mundi is as unconventional as their name implies. A mix of chamber pop and the occasional robust revelry, the six songs on this sophomore EP At Sea offer a remarkable collision of tone and texture that casts its foothold in Levine’s generally downtrodden perspective.
Somber at times, but rarely sedate, it unfolds as a series of intensely personal love songs detailing the trials and travails that accompany most romantic relationships. Levine sounds despondent throughout these circumstances, as indicated on the forlorn “Lost” in particular. Yet even though he’s given to despair, his sentiments seem to be in the right place. “If he loves you like I love you, it’s alright by me,” he insists, offering more than a hint of magnanimity on the aching break-up ballad “Right.” Nevertheless, it’s the sweeping melodies — courtesy of the nine piece ensemble that incorporates trumpet, violin, cello, harmonium and more — that take precedent here, from the emotional incantations of “A Blunt Object, Oh Robert” to the suddenly frenzy and flashpoint of “So Obscure.”
A sumptuous set of songs, At Sea is, in a word, sublime.
DOWNLOAD: “Right,” “”A Blunt Object, Oh Robert”
-Lee Zimmerman, Blurt Magazine
NYC Scene Blog, Emerging Artist Feature — The Deli
In 2010, NYC composer Adam Levine’s chamber pop brainchild Mappa Mundi released a charming six track EP (we used to call anything above four tracks “mini-albums” until a few years ago) featuring gentle songs ripe with Americana influences. After five years (spent, we guess, writing new songs and then making sense of the overwhelming number of tracks a sextet can record for each song) the project is finally releasing a sophomore EP/mini-album entitled “At Sea,” – another six track effort (lucky number?). Judging from opening track and single “So Obscure” (streaming here) the band has developed the sound in more luscious ways, refining their orchestral sound in a way that perfectly complement Levine’s intense and impassioned lirycs. The release of “At Sea” will be celebrated at Rockwood Music Hall on January 24.
Daily Download — Largehearted Boy
Selected for Largehearted Boy’s Daily Download.
Song of the Day — KDHX
Brooklyn, New York singer and songwriter Adam Levine, leader of Mappa Mundi, has no fear of sentiment. He knows that feelings need not be filtered through irony, even in the context of indie rock. On the lushly-arranged and folksy “So Obscure,” he lays his heart on the line between bathos and beauty.
Interview of Adam Levine, Mappa Mundi – Brooklyn Mast
I met Adam, when The Exeter Popes were looking for a trumpet player for live shows. He showed up for one rehearsal and nailed the performance. I am always amazed when musicians can pull this off. It shows complete confidence. About a year later, I was photographing a band and in walks Adam. It was a pretty funny reconnection. That same day he also gave me a cd of his own band called Mappa Mundi. I had no idea he was also a song writer and a damn good one at that. They are playing Pete’s Candy Store on March 6th.
-Stephen Lipuma, Brooklyn Mast
Mappa Mundi – What Have You Done? –The Metaphorical Boat
Brooklyn based quintet (and sometimes more) Mappa Mundi are the next in a long line of chamber pop musicians that have included The Byrds, The Divine Comedy and, to a lesser extent, Vampire Weekend. The group released their first mini-album, “And in this Way We Come Unmoored” in 2010, and have followed it up with the “Song for a Fortnight” project, in which the band record a track every 14 days and make it available to download for free.
Interview with Adam Levine – Jennifer Baker-Henry’s Blog
JBH: You’re adept at a few instruments. What was the first one you learned and what is your favorite to play? (You do play a mean ukulele when necessary.)
ALev: I can’t pick a favorite! I just love making sounds and am always interested in learning how to make new ones. Piano was my first, chronologically, and I still think in terms of the piano keyboard. But the trumpet is actually my first instrument, in terms of focus. It’s the one I’ve studied officially the longest and is definitely the one to which I’m the closest. I love singing, playing ukulele, guitar, piano, etc., as well, but trumpet is my first love. That’s what I like about Chamber Pop. It encourages you to be a bit of a magpie.