A collection of Reviews from various releases by Shane Morris and collaborators
By Hypnagogue Reviews – http://hypnagogue.net/2012/06/29/shane-morris-mystified-epoch/
June 29, 2012
The really good news is that Epoch, the first collaboration between Shane Morris and Mystified, is the first of a planned “trilogy about prehistoric time and evolution.” Having gone very deep into this mix of strictly organic drones and touches of tribal ambient, I can say that this series is off to a very good start. Dronemeister Thomas Park, aka Mystified, a man whose passion is taking any sound he can get his gear on and finding a way to stretch and meld it into new shapes, lays down a dense bed of tone. Shane Morris, whose recent forays into tribal, such as his excellent release, Equinox, have kept him high on my list of artists to watch, augments Park’s base with his own array of processed sounds, snarling didgeridoo and percussion. Much of the potency and earthy resonance of Epoch comes out of the artists’ decision to use only acoustic instruments in creating the drones, tones and pads at work here. The sources range from didg to vibraphone to trombone, all bent to the duo’s will and repurposed into four stunningly immersive tracks. This album is entirely about atmosphere. It’s not musical, it’s spatial. It’s the creation of sonic depth and sensation, of grinding out a pure and visceral response to sounds brought to bear en masse. It’s a pseudo-hypnotic trigger mechanism that sends our minds off into a richly imagined, thematically guided space. It is dense and humid and guttural and primitive and works its way into that eldest part of your brain and tries its best to wake it back up. And it is so very effective in what it sets out to do. Although every track here is rock solid and the disc overall is an amazing bit of darkly meditative soundcrafting, the centerpiece is the 21-minute “Devonia.” Words will absolutely fail to do service to this track. Morris’ didg curls and snarls and threatens even as it beckons you downward. The drones here seem to spin, vortex-like, to create an inexorable grasp. This is where your best bet is to simply give yourself over and listen to the duo build the sound around you, the density growing and waning over and over until you’re simply lost in the wonderful murk of sound. Epoch is a lights-out, headphones-on, make-time-for release. In terms of discs that strive solely for atmosphere, this is one of the best discs I’ve heard in years. And folks, it’s just the first of three to come out of this collaboration. The bar is set very high with Epoch; but I have no doubt that Mystified and Morris have only just begun to craft. An amazing album.
By Hypnagogue Reviews – http://hypnagogue.net/2011/08/04/shane-morris-equinox/
August 4, 2011
Done right, tribal ambient music twists its way deep into your head to become something of a mass for your primal mind, a harmonic key that opens a path to your inner pre-Dawn-of-Man self and connects, in part, on a purely instinctual level. Equinox, the new release from Shane Morris, is tribal ambient done right–although the tribal tag may not be entirely accurate. It’s not all drums, didges and cave-wall echoes–although you do get a fair amount of that. Rather, it’s a neatly paced meditation down into yourself, textbook tribal where it needs to be, hushed, washed, vast and melodic where it should be, and pulled together in a way that ensures Morris’ path makes complete sense and a complete journey. The four pieces here run just under 45 minutes, but thanks to Morris’ pacing, the time feels wonderfully stretched while you’re in the middle of it all.
The title track rises up in shimmering pads, hints of nature sounds easing the listener into the journey ahead. Then, coming up from under, the driving, compelling heartbeat at the center of Equinox–drums. This really is the spiritual center of the piece; Morris’ drumming ushers the listener into the ritual of Equinox with the frenetic energy of a soul-felt dance. (Here I get echoes of Roach’s Trance Spirit.) Even as it rises in intensity, the background pads stay low-key, silken and fluid. Voices drift in as you begin to drift out. Morris lets it cool off into quietness, then arcs into “Twilight Returns” with mildly dissonant flute sounds, ringing chimes and softer, brushed percussion. This is where he begins to spread out his landscape, with the help of guitar from Dan Minoza (who’s also tucked into the first track). There’s still an energy here, but it’s lighter–sky versus ground. The density grows, a syncopated flurry of sounds with an anticipatory edge to them, and the ride just keeps getting better. Then you’re headed back down as Morris moves into “The Earth Speaks.” He largely gives over the lead to AK Blake, whose throaty, droning didgeridoo work is like a spiral staircase directly into your subconscious. This track is your invitation to the Lower World, hissing, hypnotic and a little claustrophobic, filled with tectonic rumbling. Morris closes out with “By The Fire’s Light,” where the drums return to reinvigorate you after your time below. Morris hangs gorgeous pauses in spots, breath-catching moments before another round of drumming takes hold. Underneath it all, he lays down thick, somewhat shadowy swirls of sound as counterpoint. The track fades perfectly toward its end, the ritual complete.
This is must-listen for tribal ambient fans. It’s become a favorite of mine among my tribal listens. I’ve kept Equinox looping for literally hours at times while writing this review, and its spell remains potent and affecting. An excellent outing from Shane Morris.
Heathen Harvest Reviews – http://heathenharvest.org/2012/04/29/shane-morris-mystified-epoch/
April 29th, 2012
It’s an unusual set of circumstances that approaches when you say something knowing full well it’s probably an anomaly. With our last Mystified review, it had been mentioned that, when applied to Thomas’ usually prolific nature of releasing new music, it had been an abnormal amount of time between review submissions for him. However, practically no sooner than that review was finished just earlier on the 8th of this month, this new collaboration with Shane Morris arrived in my mailbox, this time on Lotuspike — the contemporary ambient label that is now owner by Spotted Peccary Records and has released albums from artists such as Ben Cox, Terra Ambient, Rudy Adrian, Jeff Greinke, and, more recently, Paul Ellis. The path from “Coming Days” to this new collaboration has been a fruitful, albeit it digital one from Thomas Park, with releases coming on Treetrunk Records (“Complex Silence 14″, “From the Archives”, “Thrones” collaboration with Seetyca), Genetic Trance (“Stress Test”), a remaster of “Krellmuse” on Unknown Landscapes, a remix of “Dying Star” on Petcord, and the sole physical album — the “Life is a Carnival” CD-R, again on Attenuation Circuit. There are, of course, others as well (see: Webbed Hand Records).
Shane Morris, on the other hand, is a relatively little-known artist from Arkansas whom seems to have exclusively released through the digital medium up until this point. Releases include collaborations with the likes of Blue Hell and Dan Miñoza, and also include solo releases on Earth Mantra, Buddhist on Fire, EdP, and Treetrunk Records. His collaboration with Kevin Haller, “Live at City Skies 2011″, was released on Ethereal Live which is Morris’ own live ambient imprint and has had a healthy start with releases from Symatic Star, Tange, Emerald Adrift, and EugeneKha. It should be noted that Morris has an intelligent mind, having studied both music and cultural anthropology at Missouri State University. He’s also a percussionist which often works it’s influence into his ambiance putting him on the tribal side of things. The array of instrumentation that he uses is as impressive as Park’s and, unlike most musicians whom take part in the ambient realm — he loves to perform to a live audience as is evident by his own digital label.
“Epoch” is the first in a trilogy of of albums about the prehistoric era and evolution in general. As Thomas Park described it, “it’s a nice kick in the rear to the anti-evolutionists.” The word “Epoch” then described this release perfectly both because of the time period in which the music is thematically based off of, the beginning of an evolutionary chain, and the beginning of this trilogy. The music on “Epoch” is also created to fit the atmosphere that the theme implies through a minimal, primitive sound. Cavernous drones drenched in ethereal qualities line the tracks to create images of humid rainforest and harsh mountainous terrain. Primal sounds are created through various buzzing and slow oscillations that herald images of giant insects in plentiful numbers. This is an aural landscape that is both full of life in a way that we have never been witness to as modern humans, and yet somehow distinctly raw. This sound is achieved through the usage of field recordings and other acoustic means for sound creation and capturing. No electronic sources were used for the creation of this work for reasons that should be obvious by now, though electronics were used to process the sounds created into the natural world that you will hear on “Epoch”.
It isn’t easy to put into words just how successful these two gentlemen were at creating this world and giving it a realistic organic sound. This is for all intents and purposes a droning effort — its a slow movement through this primitive world that subtly explores various elements of an era dominated by monstrous creatures. It is my belief, however, that as the beginning of the trilogy, this release symbolizes the beginnings of life in the evolutionary chain — a primordial ooze that has given birth to strange creations, thus you won’t hear any monolithic roaring, noisy drones but rather a view of life of a smaller scale, largely insect in origin if the sounds give any hint. Later works in the trilogy will need to include larger, more abrasive elements to keep the aural timeline realistic. Written by: Sage