REVIEW: Morgan's Canon - "For Water"

By Chris Eissing

Chain Border

For WaterMorgan's Canon is a genuine mix of styles. Heavily drawing its melodic stylings from Eastern-European baroque, these old-word flavors are combined with contemporary industrial motifs. Mixing male and female vocals with a base of electronic rhythm and wall-of sound noise-based guitars give Morgan's Canon a familiar but intriguing sound at a casual listen.

But digging deeper into the album, For Water sounds more like a rough draft than a finished product. The skeleton is there, but the features still need polishing. Getting manhandled by a good post-production producer and engineer would do this album some good. If this album were done by a hobbyist I'd give kudos for an above-average effort. But a lot was put into this album's packaging and promotion, and it is not the first offering for the band. So for them the bar is raised a little.

First off, vocals. The female vocals are well-placed and serve well as both a harmony and melody. But there is something lacking in them that gives it a first-take-and-out sound. The composition of the male and female vocals is very well done. But the sound does break down here and there. Not often. But enough to recognize it is a common deficiency in this album. There are moments of awkward rhythm and breakdowns of remaining in tune. And if a voice, male or female, is going to attempt an operatic styling for effect it needs to be stronger. It's close. Its breakdowns are almost subtle enough not to be noticed. Almost.

The drums are provided, sight unseen, by an off-the-shelf drum machine. The stock-sounds are rather noticeable. Plus many of the loops are clean enough to detract from the very organic music over top of it, as in Feed. There are some bright spots. The somber ballad Vampire Girl is reminiscent of a dark duet from a theatrical show. Only Words, another of their more melancholy-paced selections works better for its minimalism.

Morgan's Canon is a great example of less is more. When they strip a song down to its essentials they produce far better works than when the try to create large industrial walls of sound. Also, their harder songs seem to be too derivative of German-based industrial. Hard to pull off, and rarely good when it does work. Their selection Of Cemetaries falls victim to this.

If this music were in a movie, what would it be? I think their selection Krime would play well in any movie where Angelina Jolie has a rampant abandon sex scene involving farm animals and spade shovels to the head. It of course won't be seen until the Director's Cut on DVD.

A little clarity on the name?

Lloyd Morgan's canon: Articulated in 1894 by the British physiologist/psychologist Conway Lloyd Morgan, it cautioned against the explanatory excesses of the new field of comparative psychology by stating that in interpreting the behavior of an animal it is always preferable to use the psychologically simplest interpretation. Specifically, it is preferable to use the lower or more primitive explanation rather than to assume the action of a higher, more mentalistic process. The canon was very influential in the work of early behaviorists such as Watson and Thorndike. The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, ©© Arthur S. Reber 1995.

Post: Samsom Records, 2001581 Rockaway St., Staten Island, NY, 10307
Phone: (718) 605-0184

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