A Map With No Memory dances gently across the genres of ambient, electronic, drone and modern composition. These flirtations reflect the genesis of the compositions, written to reflect the experience of falling in and out of love with people and places. Sometimes one can be a balm for the other: as Jay Chakravorty writes of his experience in London, “I was on the platform at Stratford station, feeling unbelievably sad and unsure about the future when, just for a brief moment, the sun came out and hit the people on the opposite platform. And it lit them up.“ This brief revelation became the impetus for the album’s first single and summarizes the ways in which the trajectory of a day or a thought can be altered in an instant.
Building up to this piece, the album works its way through various tones: the drone of the opener followed by solo piano, and then rising strings, like a revelation. Early standout “Grid Cut” melds these strings to synth patterns, neither influence dominant, each working in tandem. It may be no surprise to note that the artist experienced a breakup prior to composition, and is trying to make sense of it all. “Grid Cells” seems to encompass both happy memory and the sadness that can descend on the exact same memory as it is re-contextualized following a loss.
Fortunately Chakravorty is not alone in his endeavor, having gathered an array of guest musicians to elaborate his vision. These musicians provide a new context for the composer’s feelings as he turns loss into reflection and reflection into clarity. The center of the set includes the morose “No Matter How Hard You Swim, You’ll Never Reach the Shore,” but the arc of the album proclaims a different message. Early on, “Alexia, Berlin” is inspired by “the welcome arms of friendship,” and implies the healing that a new location can provide, as well as the perspective that can linger once one returns to a former location. And the closing poem “Maps” features the gorgeous intonations of Ryan Hannigan. By this juncture, it seems the artist has reached a certain equilibrium, coming to the realization that the object of affection, whether person or place, is less important than the way one regards one’s own self and circumstances. (Richard Allen)