By Jason Keil   Published May 26, 2004 at 5:28 AM

{image1}According to the Web site, the concept of promise rings is based upon ancient mythology and sacred writings. In fact, they have been used to seal promises since the beginning of time. Bishops wore rings as a pledge of their spiritual union with the church. Even dignitaries in Venice, once the world's maritime power, renewed this city's "marriage promise" with the Adriatic Sea by tossing a ring into the waters on Ascension morning each year.

Nearly a decade ago, the popular Milwaukee indie group The Promise Ring created some mythology and mysticism of its own. Each album released, from 1996's avant-pop classic "30 Degrees Everywhere" to the fourth and final disc "Wood/Water," released in 2002, not only built upon a solid foundation of skillful and memorable songwriting, but these sets also sealed the band members' credibility as dignitaries of the underground scene. But then while no one was paying attention, The Promise Ring quietly decided to part ways.

However, singer/guitarist Davey von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier continued to write songs at a swift and fanatical rate, building upon the ambient sound they explored with producer Stephen Street during the creation of "Wood/Water."

"The Promise Ring was an eight-year adventure," says Didier. "At the end of that, we went from 19-year-old kids to functioning adults. There is still a sense of evolution. We're still going somewhere. We are taking everything that we've learned about playing music in the last decade and hopefully added more possibility to it."

Didier and von Bohlen recruited bass player Eric Axelson from the now-defunct Washington D.C. band The Dismemberment Plan to form a new trio. The three then renewed the musical promise that they had made years before. But instead of playing the type of music their bands had become known for, they symbolically threw The Promise Ring in the cool waters of Lake Michigan and marked the occasion by giving themselves the name Maritime.

Those who listen to the band's debut album on DeSoto Records, "Glass Floor" (a play on words of the phrase "glass ceiling"), can expect music and lyrics that send "a shock and shout out to the suburbs," according to von Bohlen.

With production by J. Robbins, who had previously collaborated with The Promise Ring, the 15 tracks -- with titles like "Adios" and "Someone Has to Die" -- feature vivacious horns and strings in a coated but catchy rock and roll that is difficult to classify. It's nothing like The Promise Ring, that's for sure.

"There shouldn't be any expectations on ('Glass Floor')," says Didier. "I don't want it to be like, 'Oh, this is what The Promise Ring is doing.' We're trying to do stuff that we necessarily haven't done in the past."

"I don't think we want to live in the shadow of The Promise Ring's fans' expectations," von Bohlen adds.

After touring the United States, Europe and Japan this summer, work will begin on Maritime's next album, which will certainly alter the band's sound, as Axelson begins to contribute to the songwriting duties.

The stylistic attitudes of von Bohlen and Didier, along with Axelson's poetic approach, make for an unusual paring that may have Maritime reaching for that glass ceiling before they know it.

Maritime plays a CD release show for "Glass Floor" on Saturday, May 29 at Mad Planet in Riverwest. Maritime's Web site is