Monday, 16 January 2012
Review: Morphosis - What We Have Learned
Yet more trendster techno, Morphosis' debut album What We Have Learned is yet another product of Delsin Records. And once again we get a solid but unspectacular album that never really catches fire or excites any great emotional response from me. It really does seem like 90% of the hyped electronic albums you hear these days fall into this category. I honestly do wonder if anyone really loves these bassy, moody techno albums. I'm sure a lot of people like them, but I just struggle to imagine anyone really loving them, having any kind of profound experience when listening to them that wasn't facilitated by a lot of drugs.
At least with Morphosis I can understand the hype, because this is a pretty unique sounding album as far as techno goes. Granted, there are still a lot of 4/4 beats that would be absolutely fucking useless on a dancefloor, but these tracks aren't structured like dancefloor cuts at all. A lot of them have the "sound sculpture" design a lot of the more self-consciously arty techno aspires towards, where the tracks barely have any obvious structure at all, but rather add and subtract sequencer layers so incrementally it's difficult to spot any kind of obvious changes or passages. The production and sound design is also pretty unique, and much has been made of Morphosis' use of improvisation and uncorrected playing errors. A lot of techno doesn't quite sound three dimensional outside a Funktion One soundsystem, but this album is seriously bass heavy and textured even through a laptop soundcard. It's definitely a record with its own sound, which is always a worthy feat.
Trouble is, though, and you know where this complaint is going, there just aren't enough stand-out tracks. There's a, erm, stand in track, namely Too Far with its utterly rubbish female vocal, but the only track I would classify as even close to being considered "great" is Kawn, with its barrage of nightmarish metallic synths and doomy apocalyptic melodies. I don't think this is a bad album - it certainly feels like more of an original and worthwhile piece than, say, Conforce's album, but at the same time it wasn't necessarily any more satisfying to listen to. Really, it's just those shitty, shitty beats. None of the rhythms or percussion programming on this album is remotely interesting. If you're going to make some weird, off-the-wall electronic record, cut the fuckin' beats for once, because they're so stereotypical and limited. It's at odds with everything else this record seems to be about. And don't tell me that this is just intelligent or artistic dance music. I don't believe dance music is necessarily unartistic or uninteresting, but interesting dance music is music that is clever in how it makes you dance. Smack My Bitch Up is a clever dance record. This isn't. Morphosis makes clever music with a tacked-on beat you can shuffle one foot to and nod your head a bit.
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10