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Shane Morris & Mystified – Epoch

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.

Rating: 4/5
Written by: Sage
Label: Lotuspike (US) / LSM23 / Digi-CD
Ambient / Drone