The Aerial Maps
The Aerial Maps: (L-R) Mark Hyland, Adam Gibson, Alannah Russack, Peter Fenton, Jasper Fenton
The Aerial Maps…
The Aerial Maps are a critically acclaimed Sydney band built around the writing and vocals of Adam Gibson, whose “Best-of” album from his two-decade career debuted at Number 1 on the Australian Independent Records chart in 2020. Formed in early 2008 with Gibson, plus Simon Holmes (ex-The Hummingbirds), Simon Gibson (ex-Disneyfist, Sneeze, Modern Giant) and Sean Kennedy as the core original line-up, the band is influenced by the bright landscapes and long distances of Australia, of the like described by bands such as the Triffids, Not Drowning Waving, the Go-Betweens and Midnight Oil.
Their debut album, In the Blinding Sunlight, was released in 2008 and was met with wide acclaim, earning 5-star reviews and substantial airplay, with the song ‘On the Punt’ in particular reaching a wide audience and becoming an underground Australian favourite. In 2009, ‘On the Punt’ was selected for an ABC Records compilation release titled Songs For Dad and in 2010, Blinding Sunlight was named as Best Spoken Word Release 2005-2010 at the Overland Poetry Awards. The Aerial Maps’ second album The Sunset Park, a “novel in song”, was released in 2011, again meeting with strong critical acclaim.
Following that album, the band toured extensively around Australia, playing shows with acts such as David Bride, Mick Thomas, Angie Hart, and The Gin Club, building a loyal and devoted following with their “story-songs” of love, loss, and landscape. With a similar line-up, the band briefly morphed into Adam Gibson and The Ark-Ark Birds, releasing Australia Restless in 2015 and Cities of Spinifex in 2017. Sadly it was also in 2017 when founding Maps’ member Simon Holmes passed away, bringing to a close the initial iteration of the Aerial Maps.
It was Holmes’ passing that spurred Adam to reconvene his musical cohort again under the name of the Aerial Maps and, after a 5-year hiatus, began a new era of the band. With a new sense of purpose and a new line-up consisting of himself, Simon Gibson, Alannah Russack (ex-Hummingbirds), Peter Fenton (ex-Crow) and Mark Hyland (ex-many bands), the band played extensive shows, with bands such as Halfway, and embarked on the recording of a new album. The result of which is the album Intimate Hinterland.
A widescreen experience that takes the listener on a journey through the Australian landscape, with all the associated hope and heartbreak, Intimate Hinterland is a collection of 7 brand-new songs. Heralding their first album release in almost 10 years, it is joyful return for a band who have a sense of timelessness in their sound, where a decade is just a blip and the distance between, say, Far North Queensland or the back of Broken Hill can be covered in the blink of an eye, (or the verse of a song). A travelogue-in-song and thus an antidote to lockdown, Intimate Hinterland returns the Maps’ to their place as what The Courier Mail once called “one of Australia’s most special bands.”
Critical acclaim for The Aerial Maps
“[The Sunset Park] is so finely drawn that is like a screenplay for your mind … an Australian classic. You must hear it.”
And yet more general info…
The Aerial Maps became a “band” in the period from late 2007 to late 2008, where a bunch of recording sessions to put some of my words to music with my brother Simon Gibson and Simon Holmes saw things morph into something that felt good and substantial. As a result, I attached the “Aerial Maps” monicker, that had been bouncing around in my head for a couple of years prior, to the project and before we knew it, we were launching our debut album In the Blinding Sunlight, and touring Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. It’s funny how things work out – an album with of largely spoken lyrics meeting jangly/atmospheric/whatever-goes music is an interesting proposition. A second album followed in 2011, based on a novel manuscript I wrote, with the resultant album being called The Sunset Park. It was interesting. After many gigs and stuff, I put the Aerial Maps on ice and began playing some different, new, stuff with the Ark-Ark Birds, going on to release two albums. They’re good, buy them on Bandcamp.
So that’s that … and here is the blurb accompanying the album, The Sunset Park
Two years and many hundreds of kilometres in the making,The Sunset Park is the new album from Australian band The Aerial Maps. The follow-up to the band’s acclaimed debut album In the Blinding Sunlight, The Sunset Park is the sound of a band forging a new path, taking little heed of convention and diving headlong into an idiosyncratic and adventurous space.
Moving on from the simplicity of what made their first album appeal to so many and expanding on that template in an unexpected fashion, The Aerial Maps have virtually formed their own genre. Led by the vocals and lyrics of Adam Gibson with Simon Holmes and Sean Kennedy as the core creative nucleus, plusan array of musical guests such as Greg Perano (Hunters & Collectors) Alannah Russack (The Hummingbirds), Paul Andrews (Lazy Susan), the Aerial Maps have transformed from a band lauded for their fond folky take on life in Australia to a outfit exploring the darker reaches of the country’s psyche, the often desperate lives lived beneath the hot sun and on the edges of the wide open roads through narrative and song.
The Sunset Park is an album which spans the breadth of Australia in its content and takes the listener on a journey in a fashion unlike any other Australian (or otherwise) release we can think of. A song cycle that begins in Western Australia and ends in Queensland,it is an ambitious record, one that takes a widescreen view of the country and hums with the distance and rawness of both the land and its people. In the writing of the album, vocalist/lyricist Adam Gibson undertook a long solo journey from the west coast of Australia to the east coast, soaking up the towns, the people and the landscape along the way – the result being a record that has a palpable sense of place.
Formed in 2007, The Aerial Maps released In the Blinding Sunlight in 2008 on the Popboomerang label, subsequently playing shows with acts such as David Bride, Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing and the Gin Club. The album garnered strong reviews and various tracks, notably ‘On the Punt’, received wide airplay on various radio stations. In 2009, ‘On the Punt’ was selected for an ABC Records compilation release titled Songs For Dadand in 2010, Blinding Sunlight was named as Best Spoken Word Release 2005-2010 at the Overland Poetry Awards in Melbourne.
The album can be investigated further (and bought) at www.theaerialmaps.bandcamp.com
And a live review of the Sydney album launch of The Sunset Park… all those years ago.