DISPLACER: Missing Warriors DL Component Recordings
Once more Michael Morton passes his listeners another album, in his endlessly prolific release assault. This time with a compilation of ambient tracks that fell by the wayside, or may have become lost amongst the many front of house, beat driven numbers that have taken prominence in his musical career. This is not to say these tracks are any less noteworthy, but the majority of music buyers do sadly steer away more from ambient numbers. It’s time to readdress the balance and remind them of what they’ve been missing.
From the watery subtle complexities of ‘Grey’, the soundtrack grit of ‘The Needs of the Many’, the ghostlike ‘Masterless’ to the hopeful chimes of ‘The Rescue’, Morton re-displays here a multitude of hidden gems that bedded out and glued their comparative releases together when they were fist aired.
Music such as this can be surprisingly harder to produce that your standard rhythmic affair. Creating the correct balance of pattern and layering can be an arduous and frustrating task, but ultimately a rewarding one for the producer; and those that care to take the time to kick back and listen. Morton has evidently sharpened these skills over the years and evidence of his prowess filters throughout the ten tracks generously given back to you the public, once again. Take a moment to listen this time around.
PALAIS IDEAL: No Signal CD/DL Dark Vinyl
There’s plenty of acts around at the moment who still toy with New Wave and associated sub genre’s, many of them even come from the mainstream; with acts like Editors and White Lies being at the pinnacle of the multi-sellers. As it happens, the former of these two sound more like a sub-standard U2 nowadays, but they’re still an influence on this lot, with regards to their earlier work.
Palais Ideal are decent enough in the music production stakes and the tunes themselves cover and merge a varying degree of influence from Clan of Xymox, Sisters and a touch of Legendary Pink Dots amongst others; and coupled with the bands polished image, you pretty much have them in a nutshell.
Overall, this is a solid affair that misses out in the originality stakes, but that’s not the issue as there’s nothing actually ‘new’ nowadays. The guts of the problem for me are the vocals, which slide out of tune on far too many occasions, denying them that top-drawer status. Couple the fact that when they are kept steady and in key, its only when they blurt out as a monotone Goth drone.
Overall, if you are deeply embedded into the Goth subculture, you’re gonna lap this up. For anyone who ventures further a field but still likes New Wave, then this will still miss the mark somewhat; being too engrained in the ever fading cult from which it has come, where only the ageing big hitters still shine and the newer bands tend to suck.
MIAZMA: s/t CD/DL Dark Vinyl
This is a compilation based on tracks from three previously released albums and 4 further exclusive numbers specifically tailored for this CD. I actually haven’t encountered much of this artist previously, but it didn’t take long to get the gist of what he is trying to achieve with the words “Any SISTERS OF MERCY fans will surely love this album!” being prominent in the press release.
I am sure any hardened European bedded in nails Goth will undoubtedly enjoy this; as much as they loved The Merry Thoughts, or Star Industry, or indeed any other Eldritch wannabe act. Thing is, whilst all of these bands, including Miazma do have a touch of Andrew’s overtones, they have all sounded a tad tacky in their application; and only hit the mark sporadically.
There is an argument that whilst the Sisters don’t produce any more work, then there is a market for those that want to keep the old flames burning. Unfortunately though, they only amount to the ever-dimming embers of what once was; leaving a fog as thick as Eldritch’s live shows.
Don’t get me wrong; Miazma is musically well produced and the songs have a fair bit of weight to them. Whilst being extremely easy on the ear though, I just can’t take it that serious; and if I want to listen to music of this ilk, I will just pull out a classic vinyl of the UK’s finest, from many years ago when it truly mattered. In fact, that’s what I may do right now and relive my youth, avoiding the second-class plagiarism.
SYLVAIN CHAUVEAU & CHANT1450: Echoes of Harmony-Early Music Reworked CD/DL Sub Rosa
A crossover of early ensemble based repertoire of 15th and 16th century compositions, sound designed electronically, may not spark much interest for many; but it does grab my attention.
There is something majestic about the music created here, knocking on the door of Dead Can Dance, but flirting with the sounds of Gregorian spirituality; a mysteriously hidden, yet omnipresent lore.
Easy on the ear and surprisingly un-subcultural (considering the contemporary electronic influence), this does have a touch of the major league to it, where this could be exposed to a wider classical market and they would revel in it. I could imagine this going down well in an old opera house or a sitting in grand medieval cathedral somewhere in Eastern Europe littered with candles burning at dusk. On the flip side of the coin, this could also appeal to God botherer’s, sat at home on a Sunday afternoon lamenting their past discretions; and that’s where it becomes a tad droll.
Overall though, this is a pleasant and interesting piece of work. I would struggle play this more than once and most likely will never again as it barely differs in experimentation throughout. It is however, accomplished; and that’s more than can be said about a lot of releases out there. My cat William loves it too; and nobody argues with him.
O3: Trashumancia CD/DL Sofa Music
All the makings of albums I hate come to mind, when the words ‘Free Improvisation’ are uttered. It really does set me off on bad footing before I hit the play button, as history has told me most of the stuff in this field is nothing short of bloody awful.
Again, whilst being quieter than expected, this is a rambling concoction of bells, chimes, stumbling instrumentation and percussion that endlessly fumbles and falls over with no apparent nod to any form of musical gumption.
There’s no structure, no form and most importantly, no point to this genre and I am aghast at the amount of labels that churn this stuff out year on year. The sad thing is; occasionally you can hear a glimpse of musicianship that criminally hasn’t being capitalised on. If I never hear another album of this ilk, it will be too soon. Life is far too short to waste on monotony such as this.
DISPLACER: The Face You Deserve CD/DL Hymen Records
This is the final release of the year for prolific Canadian Michael Morton; who is on a seemingly unstoppable roll right now, in the productivity stakes.
Opening up with ‘Out of Time’, a steady bass line gels the gently applied and folded beats as cold and distant pads ease their way through the cracks; setting the scene for the general approach to this latest opus.
As usual though, Morton has the knack of surprising the listener once they have bedded in for the ride; throwing the odd curveball of electronics that wade in to kick over the bins and push items off shelves, as opposed to just tearing the place up. A gentle riot if you will, that is none more evident than on ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ (Mike is actually a really nice guy).
The title track plays with Displacer’s trademark looping elastic band, panning electronic leads and stuttering rhythm; that sets the scene well for the beat-free analogue synth extravaganza that is ‘He Becomes the Dream’.
‘The Face You Deserve’ has a lot to live up to, given the impressive and expansive back catalogue Morton has given to the world over the years. Once again, he has delivered an album that stands tall in his discography that touches on the past; and indeed adds some extra footnotes for the future, as a bridge for the endless possibilities to come.
GREGG KOWALSKY: L’Orange, L’Orange LP/CD/MC Mexican Summer
‘What does the sun sound like?’ asks the press release. It’s a mystery that never crossed my mind and most likely one we will ever truly find out, if it’s worth asking at all. No matter, as Kowalsky obliterates any questions that may be directed at himself, with an impressive conceptual 7-tracker that took me completely by surprise.
Warm summer enriched ambient is the order of the day here, with multi-layered pads that compliment each other as a fusion of pitch that sit on a bed of oven baked bass lines. Lush, high-end pitter-patters are allowed to flow across a sea of ranging drones, never losing sight of essential melody.
‘L’Orange, L’Orange’ is a dreamy album; and one of those releases, which you really have to make some space and time for. The rewards for the listener are endless here, once you allow yourself to be completely immersed in its tangerine, seamless folds. It also gains kudos for an ability to have kept me transfixed from beginning to end; and I very nearly just hit ‘play’ once again, as the final notes reverberated out.