Exposé Online banner

Morris Pert — The Music of Stars
(Buckyball BR020, 2001, CD)

Morris Pert — Desert Dances
(North by Northwest NBYNW 005, 2006, CD)

by K. Leimer, Published 2008-10-01

The Music of Stars Cover artDesert Dances Cover art

The compositional premise for The Music of Stars is not as rigorous as Cage’s Etudes Australes or as evocative as Ligeti’s Atmosphères. Pert simply enough organizes nine pieces by the names of the stars comprising the Virgo constellation without indications of going any deeper than an articulating his subjective impressions. So, how exactly how does this music relate to yet another example of human make-believe, a constellation? The Music of Stars exhibits consistent tonality and air of suspension, bringing an important sense of unity to the pieces – something that is perhaps analogous to the psychological phenomenon of “closure” which encourages the mind to see a complete picture where none exists and to then name the imagined relationships something like “Virgo.” There is a general stretched metal quality to the sound, recalling some of the more concrete sonic experiments of Stuart Dempster circa Deep Listening as well as the more typical pop-facing extrapolations of early Tangerine Dream, perhaps even Froese’s Aqua. Like Froese and unlike Dempster, there is less restraint and an untethered compulsion to interrupt some exquisite stretches of pure sound that could just as easily have been left alone. As such The Music of Stars fits the broad and trackless dimensions of generic “space music”: fluid, timbral and too often impulsive, cheating its own stillness of expansive calm by the interjection of bubbly synth gurgles and bleeps that make the resulting aether less a reimagined universe than an agglomeration of already familiar impressions of the one we inhabit.

Desert Dances sets itself a profoundly more earthbound goal. Where The Music of the Stars is often languid, Desert Dances deploys intense and dense rhythm patterns, usually voiced with a world music lexicon, furiously clocked, highly symmetrical, and techno-tribal. The percussion is generous in its range, featuring sampled or imitated log drums, metallics and pitched metals, clappers, and kalimbas, all dominating the frequency range by throwing off everything from low, wooden thumps to glistening metallic lights. These patterns are typically dressed with jazz-inflected keyboard phrasing, lending an improvised feel through shifting harmonics and analog sounding synth with plenty of gliss and pitch bend. The dervish mood breaks midway through the CD, emerging to the sudden calm of piano and hand percussion in “Tangier Nights,” after which these Morris dances return to their obsessive percussive grooves. But despite all the rhythmic complexity, rapid changes and often furious staccato play, the overall effect remains two-dimensional – keyboard and percussion – and tends, oddly, to feel mechanical.

Both these CDs are immaculately, almost clinically, produced. And in each case there is a distinct musical personality at work that is curiously both at odds and completely congruent with the more typical aspects of these forms: distinct but at the same time perhaps too familiar.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2001 releases, 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Morris Pert

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ozric Tentacles - Arborescence – The Ozrics seem to be believers in the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They've found a style that works for them and that their fans seem to like. On this, their latest release, they've...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues