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Mappa Mundi

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Mappa Mundi was founded by composer/multi-instrumentalist/singer Adam Levine. Adam washed up on Brooklyn’s verdant shore one day, determined to create a new kind of band combining his sundry, far-flung influences. These included folk, Americana, noisy art rock, and classical/contemporary chamber music. Now what initially started as a mad, eclectic experiment has since evolved into something uniquely organic.

It’s impossible to view Mappa Mundi in the light of any single influence. Sweet chamber pop meets reedy Americana. Jangly folk strumming is punctuated by jagged snarls of electric guitar. Intensely introspective story-songs are belied by steely delivery and Sturm und Drang orchestration. The lush harmonies and broad, sweeping melodies of Romanticism blend with the cascading repetition and interwoven patterns of Minimalism.

Adam formed Mappa Mundi in 2009 by gathering a group of like-minded misfits: talented musicians who were bored by the stuffy old bonds of traditional genres like “rock” or “classical.” They workshopped the project in venues around New York, tinkering with instrumentation, arrangement, and sound through 2011, when they recorded their first EP, And in this Way We Come Unmoored…. Along the way they’ve been featured at Brooklyn’s Northside, Infringement, and Prospect Heights Music Festivals and praised in music blogs The Metaphorical Boat and Sepiachord (amongst others). Now, besides Adam (Voice, Trumpet, Ukulele, Composition/Songwriting), MM’s motley band of musical castaways includes Jason Sagebiel, a classically trained guitarist and composer whose own work blends Americana, Rock, and Persian music. Violinist Suzanne Lipkin also brings classical orchestral training as well as experience in chamber pop and musical theater. Bassist Mike Darnell’s background ranges from dark folk to goth and punk. Accordionist/harmoniumist Richard Exelbert’s work as Maharadjah Sweets blends blues, Americana, and lo-fi electronica. And finally, drummer Matt Moore rounds everything out with rock, jazz, and theatrical experience.

Their new EP, At Sea (January 27th, 2015), was recorded and produced by Adam Levine and Charles Newman of Motherwest Studios (The Magnetic Fields, Cold Blood Club, Aloud). Its title comes from the old nautical term for being lost without bearings, with no sign of land, and each of its six songs explores variations on this theme.

Mappa Mundi has big plans for their unique brand of chamber pop. On the horizon is a full length album of new material as well as a musical entitled Rocket Opera. For a band navigating with such a wide-ranging map, Mappa Mundi’s course is clearly set.

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