A Map of the World

COMPOSERS: Pat Metheny
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Pat Metheny
PERFORMER: Pat Metheny (g, p, ky), Steve Rodby (b), David Samuels (perc); string orchestra
CATALOGUE NO: 9362-47366-2

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American guitarist Pat Metheny is one of those rare birds whose popularity soars above genres. His willingness to wig out during electrified solos makes him a hero among the mad axemen of the rock world; his impossibly complex extemporisation alongside hardcore jazzers such as Ornette Coleman and Mike Brecker gives him intellectual cred among the beard and beret set. But it is the gentle, extended acoustic works, carefully designed to evoke images of the Big Country, that attracts his core audience.

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Map of the World falls into this latter category and fans of his earlier Beyond the Missouri Sky and Secret Story should rejoice. Written as a score for the movie of the book of the same name, AMOTW is the first of many soundtracks written by Metheny to feature him in the lead role. Golden, single note finger picking and magical chord progressions overlay panoramic string arrangements in a series of short sequences. He is at home in this setting – Midwestern Wisconsin is the mise en scène – and the richly melodic acoustic observations on author Jane Hamilton’s narrative are tender and affecting without being overly sentimental.