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First Play: Mappe Of, A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone

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Holly Gordon

“Time is limited,” Whitby, Ontario’s Tom Meikle told q during his first live performance as Mappe Of earlier this summer. It’s something we all know, but Mappe Of lives it with every lyric, touching on death and family and how to really live on what often feels like borrowed time.

Meikle, who went to journalism school and busked around Australia before realizing he wanted to settle on a music career, is also a member of the art-rock five-piece band Common Age. But with Mappe Of, the source of the material is solely Meikle.

The singer’s previous musical focus was prog metal — “it was a lot about just challenging techniques and exploring strange melodic areas,” he said on q — and the precision and melodic fluidity have made their way to A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone. Here, Meikle has traded in metal for a Bon Iver-meets-Fleet Foxes sound, though even that cross-section feels too boxed in once you listen to the collection of 10 tracks.

The horns swell at the same time the guitar twangs on “Nimbin,” while a banjo and hand percussion make their way into the intro for “Carbon Scores and Smoke,” before Mappe Of’s voice crashes in. At times haunting, at others reaching near sing-along heights, Mappe Of has created a debut album worth a front-to-back listen — followed by giving in to it many times over.

A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone will be released July 28.