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Over the last ten years, Michael Morley has embraced the acoustic guitar as the means of channeling the darkest threads that have run through his work since the early 1980’s. While he largely made a name for himself as a maverick of primitive electric guitar and electronics in The Dead C and Gate, Morley’s love of song form has never been far from the surface. In recent years, chance discoveries of Spanish and classical guitar records languishing in the discount and free bins at junk shops in South Dunedin proved to be a revelation. These records, largely recorded in the 1950’s and 60’s, began to shift Morley’s work and lead him to piece together a new musical language from elements completely removed from the rock and avant-garde underground from which he first emerged. Spanish, Mexican and South American composers such as De Fossa, Ponce, Lauro, Barrios, Pujol, Albéniz, Falla, and Villa-Lobos as well as more traditional classical guitar composers like Schubert, Haydn, and Scarlatti all began to etch themselves into his consciousness. Rather than emulate them, Morley “channeled the experience of listening to these strange guitar sounds” as he began to play the acoustic guitar for hours at a time every day as an almost meditative exercise and a way of discovering a new way to play.

 

This new musical language is devastatingly realized on Pushed Streets, a suite of 12 songs Morley recorded at home in Kōpūtai / Port Chalmers, New Zealand. The music is quiet, almost ephemeral. Chords and melodies are traced in a dark atmosphere with Morley’s unmistakable voice almost imperceptibly double tracked, words softly sung and stretched, sometimes at a near whisper. There are no amplifiers, no effects, nothing to distract from Morley’s words and the tone of his guitar. Recorded with two 1970’s guild guitars, an orchestral six string and dreadnaught twelve string, the guitar sound is rich and dynamic, chords and melodic figures are struck with what sometimes seems the gentlest possible gesture, resonating and floating away into the night. The music and voice, the lyrics are all of that dark thread, distilled with frightening clarity. The music is intimate and fragile, unadorned and heartbreaking in a way that recalls the spirit of lonely and world-weary albums by Skip Spence, Bill Fay and Loren Connors; yet against the backdrop of the absolute finality of today’s culture, the album’s alchemy of Spanish and classical influences with Morley’s formative work avant garde work, Pushed Streets exists in its own hauntingly desolate realm.

Michael Morley - Pushed Streets LP

$23.00Price
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