Morphosis told us last month that's he's on a never-ending quest to "free" his loops. He pointed out that techno is a genre enslaved to the sequencer; the challenge for him is to emancipate his music from quantization. Two Morphosis releases through M>O>S these past two years have gone some way to achieving this through their own free flowing yet club-indebted manner. What Have We Learned advances on this goal markedly—to the point at which this debut album, co-released by his own Morphine Records and Dutch label Delsin, is likely to be the most unfettered techno full-length you'll hear this year.
It couldn't have sounded any other way, though, if we are to heed Morphosis' assertion that What Have We Learned was composed in two days (with two days beforehand to plug in all his gear). A small cluster of instruments appear on each of the ten tracks. The compositions hinge on each having enough headroom to clearly tell its own story. Synths are unhinged and buzzing, their filters unraveling into the many vacant spaces in the frequency range. Likewise, hi-hats and percussion are heavily affected by distortion and modulation without fear of encroachment upon other elements. Around half the pieces are tethered to the inexorable thump of a kick—which in themselves are a point of note with their earthy analog tones—while the other 50% ease through wistful pads and crunchy broken-beats. Techno is the tone, but experimentation is the theme.
Electronic music producers often talk-up "jam sessions" and "happy accidents" only for the end result to seemingly belie such a claim. On What Have We Learned it isn't even necessary to dig for such things. Listen to the opening bars of "Kawn" for instance: An ominous four-note riff is thumbed in over skittering hats, with Morphosis frequently missing his key or fluffing his delivery. This is very evidently "one take" stuff. And as such, the passage of bars becomes irrelevant; the expectation for something new to happen every 32 beats recedes, which in turn allows you to ease into a journey.
That's not to say What Have We Learned could be termed easy-listening. A machine-like intensity in the vein of Sandwell District pervades the record—"Wild in Captivity" and "Spiral" being the most striking examples—which is humanized on occasion by sharp turns from female vocalist Kae—"Too Far" and "Europa." Even during moments of delicacy—the pitter-patter percussion of "Gate of the Night"—a tenebrous mist swirls overhead. For all its dark energy, though, What Have We Learned is just as striking for the manner of its execution—you can almost sense Morphosis' fingers quivering over his synths as you urge him to make even more "mistakes."
Tracklist: Morphosis - What Have We Learned01. Silent Screamer
03. Too Far
04. Wild In Captivity
05. Androids Among Us
06. Gate Of Night
08. Dirty Matter