Album Review

Morton, John – “Solo Traveler ” – [Innova/American Composers]

Thurston Hunger   3/30/2007   A Library, CD

Lullaby gamelan? Morton deconstructs music boxes and constructs music
back with them. The first track tacks on mbira and we get quick swipes
of the combs, full of tiny majesty and more recognizable music box
action. Track two, the title piece, features voices more prominently
in a swirl, nearing rounds at times circling perhaps to approximate
the path of the dragonfly of which they sing. “Ta-Wee” is a music
box in space, feels like satellites eavesdropping at the beginning
winds up in a computer whorl. Similarly, the music box pattern on
“Through the Wall” sounds like a gyroscope oscilloscope gradually
overlays it…less mindfully mingled than on “Ta-Wee.” Maybe that is
intentional. Then the piece de resistance, “Amazing Grace Variations”
at 16 1/2 minutes, it is no less than amazing, from its plaintiff
beginnings which quickly get corrupted and triple-lapped, then in
comes an injection of electronic fervor. Quite a jolt, the music
boxes then ricochet through loops and and deep listening phases where
you can almost feel the music box clicking through…these get dampened
in wave and in moisture it seems, heavy processing for a phase, if
the listeners once was lost, now that listener is lost squared. More
electronic reign…leading to icy drones that sound like bagpipes made
out of ice…then when all hope is almost gone, very mangled remnants
of the melody slowly clink out, there’s almost a bachelor pad phase
that comes up after that until finally at last we return to our
original state of “Grace.” Pretty weird in a good way, the album overall
avoids being a one-trick pony by way of Morton’s e-processing.

-Thurston Hunger

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