It doesn’t take an expert or even a jobbing hack like myself to point out that Tulipomania make a sound that would have fitted right into the 4AD fold back in the day. Their ability to blend dark avant-gardery with dream-pop melodies, that feeling of exploration that came with the arrival of new technical playthings as the last whiff of punk was drifting away on the breeze, that idea of otherness and outsider status. Its all there. And quite frankly, within certain rarefied music circles those things have never really gone away. But unlike many who look back to those heady days for influence, Tulipomania go beyond the mere copyists that they share space with and feel like the opening chapter to a sonic sequel to those days.
Off The Map is a slow and cavernous slice of, for want of a better word, alt-rock, heavy, oppressive, dark and driven by angst-ridden vocals and beats that fall somewhere between military and tribal. It may nod to the past but it very much looks to the future. Two versions of On The Outside accompany the lead track, the full version more drifting and futuristic and when rendered into purely instrumental form sounding like Bauhaus and Vangelis teaming up to write music for a dystopian disco.
It is always healthy to understand where you are coming from but it doesn’t do you much good to dwell on it too much. Obviously if you are plotting a course into the great unknown it pays to remember your starting point but it is much more important to keep looking ahead, concentrate on the journey ahead and the course you are charting. Tulipomania are the masters of just such an approach.