Genre: IDM / Rhythmic / Ambient
01) Phantom Limb
06) Ghost Planet
07) In Limbo
10) Foggy Memory
11) Ice Cold
Displacer is a project from Toronto, Ontario, Canada that was born out of the need for one man to figure out what to do with his synth collection. Of course, you’re not going to buy that, are you? The reality is that this was in fact at least a small reason behind Displacer coming into existence, but the larger reason is that the man behind the music, Michael Morton, was interested in creating music that was true to his own interests in all areas of his life, transcribed into a rhythmic electronic array of sound. Morton has had no shortage of label support since bringing Displacer into its own, finding his first physical appearance on the Mute Records compilation “Pre-set – New Electronic Music” alongside of many acts that would, frankly, not go on to do much of anything outside of Cursor Miner whom has a hefty back-catalog and is still going strong today. Of course, Morton would spend the first half of his career with the well-known French label M-tronic before departing to Tympanik Audio for the second half, finding his debut with “The Witching Hour” EP. During his career, Morton has been held in such esteem that he has produced remixes for the biggest label names in the industry, from Wax Trax and Metropolis to Ant-zen and Hymen.
With “Night Gallery”, we see the first full-length from Displacer since his days on M-Tronic with 2006’s “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby”. Gone are the elaborately evil artwork and horror influences of “The Witching Hour”, replaced instead by what would seem like an ode to his humble beginnings with an astral theme much like his debut on M-Tronic, “Moon_Phase”. The album opens with “Phantom Limb” that is built on the strength of Morton’s bold drum programming and bass-fuzz/DJ-scratch accenting while being carried in a heavenly theme by the floating reverberated piano melody that loops in the background. Tracks can range from the vast cinematic rhythmic ambient textures of Invisible and Orchid (and the desolate lulling ambiance of Wave and Ice Cold) to the upbeat dance of solar particles as referenced by the intense percussive work and Aphex Twin-style glitchiness on Radioactive which is, for the second half of the track, accompanied by all the warm analog synth that you’d come to expect from a collector — a sound that imbues scenery of aurora borealis coming into existence through the absorption of those radioactive particles into the magnetic field of a living planet.
“Ghost Planet” on the other hand features droning textures that are overtaken by low-end dub and the playful melodic sound of IDM. This is perhaps the richest track on the album in regards to melody and unique character, not only through it’s complex melodic structuring but also through the amount of space that the production allows the track to have. A lot of focus is put on the low-end drone which allows the upper melodic lines to breathe and interact with each other. “Ghost Planet” is followed by the darkest track, “In Limbo” which carried with it an obvious theme. More drones, this time with spherical texturing, arrive in this short but very bleak track. A ship horn sounds in the distance through fog created by sound, almost signaling the arrival of Acheron, before being accompanied by an inaudible, static-infested radio signal from who-knows-what and who-knows-where before abruptly ending and heralding the track “Awakening” — literally acting as jump back into consciousness from a nightmare.
“Night Gallery” certainly paints true the countless old adages about the relative situation being about the journey and not the destination. The album is more impressive for its particularly beautiful ambiance that lines the rhythmic elements of the album. With the exception of “Falling” which is a bass-heavy electronic track with vocals performed by Downhouse, “Night Gallery” is exactly what it seems to be — a journey through the void that focuses on the beauty of space, all that is found within it, and how they interact with one another. Of course, Morton’s works are largely personal so his own gauge on what he was trying to create here could be, and probably is different than anyone else’s perspective, but that doesn’t take away from the intrinsic qualities that lie within.