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A Magazine for Sheffield

On Swings & Roundabouts

Soft but lively. Cerebral yet direct. This is the sound of the new EP On Swings & Roundabouts by Sheffield collective Early Cartographers, an acoustic folk act that mix a melodic flair with a contemporary edge. The EP consists of two short tracks 'Illuminators' and 'Roundabouts'. Both pieces have little difference in mood or tempo, but what makes the music enticing is the array of instruments that the Early Cartographers play. Aside from guitars, vocals and percussion there are string instruments, accordion, woodwinds and a brass section. The band are able to fuse these sounds with delicate harmonies. This punctuates the lyrics and lends their music a wistful beauty.

It is refreshing that the production of the EP manages to keep the rough edges of the Early Cartographers performances intact, emphasising the live energy of the band and making it a more intimate experience for the listener. A problem, however, is that there have been a lot of alternative folk acts of late and it can feel generic. The Early Cartographers do show similarities with bands like Beirut and Fleet Foxes but they shouldn't be labelled as copyists. There is too much poignancy and emotion within their musical arrangements to call them derivative. It will be exciting to see if the Early Cartographers release a full-length album in the near future.