Blue Skied an' Clear
/morr; 2002/

rating : 9




more info :

What can I do ? I find myself with three awesome albums from the German Morr label, and they have a lot of things in common, so I really don't feel like reviewing them all. That would imply my repeating three times the same arguments. Kinda hollow. So, I've decided to review the most broad-minded one. And there are songs by the bands I wanted to review in it too, so it's cool.

The Morr label has been releasing awesome music these last three years, things that sound new and refreshing and good. This is a double-cd triple-lp compilation. It goes like this : disc one : Slowdive tribute by Morr bands. disc two : new cool Slowdive-inspired music by Morr bands. 

part one : the beginning 

As a teenager, Thomas Morr was a loser. I mean, the kind of loser everybody (yes, everybody) is at one point in his/her life. He was a big Kiss fan. For youngsters, being a kiss fan back then was like being a Marilyn Manson fan today, even though it was probably funnier. His favourite song was I Was Made for Loving You and he spent hours in detention just because he couldn't help but stick out his tongue and lick anyone standing close to him. And it was in detention that he fell in love.

Hilda was tall and beautiful in a mother-like way. She wore shapeless clothes, had no definite haircut and cool black eye liner. She had started drinking ink when she was five and at the time she was a total junkie. The problem with ink, if you compare it to other drugs, is the stains left after use. 

They met on a Wednesday afternoon. Thomas had just licked his geography teacher and Hilda had been found unconscious behind a bush in the school yard with suspicious stains on her teeth. They spent about an hour staring at each other and then they relaxed and she offered him some dope. He fell in love after his first fix. From that time on they just spent their days hanging out together, mostly in detention. They even spent the summer together in a youth rehab summer camp. Of course she was a loser too, but she had the decency to have good taste in music. 

He tried to convert her to disco-rock but his attempts met with smiles, laughs and then blows. She was 2indie4him. One afternoon, a couple of days after her father's seventh failed attempt at robbery, she told him about shoegazing. For German people, at the time, shoegazing was as alien a concept as, say, nu-metal for intelligent people. I want hate mail. So, she told him all there is to know about it. Just stare at your shoes and let your hair hang in front of your face while listening to the music. and swoon.

He turned out to be a big Slowdive fan. I mean, he knew the lyrics. And he was listening to Souvlaki when the phone rung. It was Hilda's father, Juan, calling from the prison. Hilda was in the E.R. after a striking red ink OD. He jumped on his bike and rode as fast as he could to the hospital. She found her surrounded by doctors and nurses, her skin so white he could see through it. She glanced at him and said : "Thomas, I want you to promise me something before I die" and then she died, with a surprised look on her face. After having been kicked out of the hospital by the security (they spotted suspicious stains), he stared at the cloudy rainy German sky, his face wet with rain, tears and ink, and laughed a madman's laugh. 

part two : the quest for answers

Ten Years After, after having spent most of his time trying to kill himself, Rudy Morr (he had changed his name after Germany's World Cup success) decided that it was time for him to go on. He had spent the last decade stealing money from his mother's wallet in order to buy ink to satisfy his needs and to forget Hilda. He even snorted glue at some point. He had simultaneously grown a mullet and a moustache and was known in Berlin as the blue-toothed boy. It was on a sunny winter day that he decided that he needed to clean his life up a bit. On that day he met Rachel, his cousin and actually talked to her. He hadn't talked to a girl since Hilda, apart from Jennifer, the phone sex girl. She was cute in a Scandinavian way and she was into Guns & Roses at the time. For youngsters, being a Guns & Roses fan back then was like being a Oasis fan now. So, he introduced her to real music. He dusted off the Slowdive lps he hadn't listened to since Hilda's death and played them to her. She fell in love midway through side one of Pygmalion. He smiled at her. His twelfth youth rehab summer camp holiday had been successful and he hadn't touched a pen in months. In consequence his smile was pale blue. They started dating and he decided to change his lifestyle. He shaved his moustache, cut his mullet, changed his name to Ice Pick and started listening to hip hop. He successfully entered high school through which he survived disguised as a b-boy. He even smurfed a bit. 

He had a plan. Graduating through high school and college, getting rich and living a posh life with Rachel. He gave up on his plan on a Thursday afternoon (at 4) he was busy studying radiology when one of his hip hop friends, MC Hans, told him the terrible news. Yo' Pik bro, heard da new ? that indie British label U like, Creation ? it'z finished!!!1 For Ice, it was as if Hilda had died a second time. But this time he could do something about it. Because as MC Hans rapped, Ur eyes may cry but rhymes don't die!!!1

part three : the gathering

An afternoon, as Rachel and he were making out, he thought of all the bands and artists he knew back then, and what a shame it was that they did not get the exposure they deserved. Well, to be fair, they didn't really deserved anything but kicks. It was in the heydays of grunge and apart from sexy ripped jeans, it didn't really produce anything good. And it didn't even create sexy ripped jeans in the first place. anyway. he was a real grunge guy back then. He smelled, his hair was long and he was so thin he looked cool. He even modeled for Versace at some point. His favourite band back then was Nirvana. For youngsters, being a Nirvana fan back then was as original and subversive as being a Strokes fan today. 

A couple of days later, when Eddie Vedder finally shot himself things got quieter and he took a bath, cut his hair and decided that Thomas Morr was not that bad as a name. 

part four : the fight

Even though his relationship with Rachel had ups and downs they happily went on. She worked as a fashion designer and he started working as a stock broker after his spiritual awakening summer camp in Tibet. Slowly but surely he got dough, as our friend MC Hans would say, and after having thought about it for some time, he created his very own label, named not without pretension "Morr Music." They made really nice music, with beats, loops and singers with cute German accents. They released really good stuff. And Thomas Morr had a secret plan.

His goal from the beginning had been to get to reissue Slowdive's albums, by buying the rights and stuff. He tried, he fought hard against angry British men but their sick strategies and selfish money lovin' got rid of him. He had lost a fight but not the war ! In return, he then decided to release a Slowdive tribute, made by bands from the Morr rooster, such as Múm, Bernhard Fleischmann, Lali Puna, Manual, Hermann & Kleine... Face da counterstrike.

part five : the review

The other two albums I wanted to review were Manual's Ascend and Hermann & Kleine's Our Noise. Lately IDM bands have started using guitars again and the result in the case of Manual and Hermann & Kleine's albums sounds like a Shoegazing revival. But it feels natural, like an update. If you listen to these albums you will recognize Slowdive's airy guitars in the back. Hermann & Kleine's Blue Flower sounds like 2002 shoegazing. The funny thing about this double cd compilation is that it's hard to hear the differences between Slowdive covers on the 1st disc and original material on the 2d. It sounds like the 80s revival is almost over. I don't know if I should be happy about it or not. I mean, what's next ?

What's good about the tribute album is the voices and the singing. I really enjoy the music alone, but it's even better with a nice soft voice on top. I can't help but fall in love with Lali Puna's rendition of 40 Days There's Valerie Trebeljahr's voice intertwined with Marcus Acher's and it's very lovely. two charming soft voices with cute accents singing in sync. I don't like reviewing compilations, you're always doing track-by-track reviews, it gets quite boring. And tributes are even more boring since you keep on comparing the original and the cover. hmm. This is really good. probably as good as an IDM compilation gets. ok, there's only morr music stuff, but there's no filler material, most of the stuff is excellent, despite a couple of so-so tunes there and there. I'm going to talk about my very favourite tracks now. I really really like Bernhard Fleischmann and his cover of Here She Comes (feat. Ms. John Soda) is brilliant. Manual's cover of Blue Skied an' Clear is fantastic, as well as Hermann & Kleine's low-key acoustic Dagger. Múm closes brilliantly the tribute cd with a fragile, ghostly and delicate cover of Machine Gun. 

The compilation cd is as enjoyable as the tribute album, excepted if you're just a die-hard hardcore Slowdive fan. My very favourite song is Guitar's House Full of Time which sounds like a 21st century My Bloody Valentine fronted by Ivy's Dominique Durand. It's really really good. Most of the music on this second cd is instrumental, and the two cds work very well as a pair. Styrofoam's Fade Out Your Eyes is a sad song on a bip-hop instrumental that goes wild at some point. Komeit's Same, Same is a cute acoustic pop song with delicate noises bubbling and tickling in the back. very cute. Limp's Silent Running closes this fantastic album in an imperious way. This is easily the best introduction to IDM neurotic indie boys will find. Two hours and twelve minutes of ethereal bliss.  

-Barbara H. 

/sept  15th 2002/