Because sometimes you need to go somewhere make-believe to feel what’s real. Welcome to the Isle of Ailynn.
With his just announced new album, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and composer Mappe Of (Tom Meikle), welcomes you to The Isle Of Ailynn.
For his latest album (due out November 1 via our friends at Paper Bag Records), The Isle of Ailynn is the follow up to his 2017 debut, A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone, which saw three sold-out shows in Toronto, more than 6 million streams on Apple/Spotify, and earned accolades on both sides of the border (including praise from NPR, CBC, Consequence of Sound, The Globe and Mail, Paste, Exclaim!, Stereogum).
The Isle of Ailynn is an epic conceptualized album situated in a universe of his creation. A fantasy-world inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, however, this is not your typical wizard-cloaked concept album. Think more from the perspective of KID A, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, or The Wall. Or perhaps more appropriately, its nine tracks more closely resemble levels in a videogame, each representing a distinct, discrete environment that exists within an overarching ecosystem.
For all its compositional complexity, The Isle of Ailynn ultimately centres around the essential quality that drew so many of us to Mappe Of in the first place: Meikle’s voice. Comforting and ghostly in equal measure, it’s the beacon that guides you safely through Ailynn’s topsy-turvy topography, while drawing out the topical IRL resonance from the album’s fantastical backdrops.
The quasi-title-track “Ailynn” – that was shared today (LISTEN HERE), is all pastoral bliss and regal grandeur, but when Miekle sings, “I never knew this place to be so violent, so cruel to the comings of strangers,” you can’t help but think of dramas currently unfolding in the news.
Recorded at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse Studio with long-time collaborator Will Crann and veteran engineer Nyles Spencer (Broken Social Scene, Gord Downie), The Isle of Ailynn expands upon Mappe Of’s guitar/piano/drums template with an avalanche of synths, flute, clarinet, brass, and strings. Each track is an intricate, Jenga-like assemblage—delicately rendered but densely layered, ascending triumphantly skyward while perpetually teetering on the brink of collapse.