(2 out of 5 stars)
On 2007’s WE CAN CREATE, James Chapman – a.k.a. Maps – crafted an album that deftly blended shoegaze swoon, propulsive electronica and a touch of singer-songwriter honesty. The balance was a tricky one, but Chapman successfully mastered it, and WE CAN CREATE was the justifiable recipient of critical acclaim. It’s doubtful that TURNING THE MIND will be similarly praised. While many of the same elements that defined WE CAN CREATE are still in place here, the balance has been tweaked in a way that’s not entirely appealing. Elevating beat-driven electronics from a supporting role to a more pronounced presence, many of the cuts on TURNING THE MIND are notably aggressive – not angry, but definitely more insistent. Although that aggression is undercut somewhat by Chapman’s lyrical bent on the album – cuts like “I Dream of Crystal” and “Without You” are quite confessional – it still overwhelms the lush, psychedelic swirl that made WE CAN CREATE so enveloping. Though TURNING THE MIND is far from a dry and direct album of dance music, it nonetheless comes off as somewhat more conventional than one might hope.