Alastair Galbraith

Morse

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AllMusic Review by

Alastair Galbraith's full solo debut builds on the cryptic promise of Gaudylight. It's not too different in overall feel, with short running lengths for songs and free-form verse/chorus structures defining the album as much as the blend of intimate vocal overdubs, rough guitar noise, and furry keyboards. For all that, there's as much gentle sing-song as there is experimental exploration, often at the same time -- while not sounding like Flying Saucer Attack's similar blend of folk and electronic ambience, there's a similar inspired combination at work. Certainly "Marcasite Lace," the one track on the album done with the full Plagal Grind lineup, almost starts like something FSA would have released in the early '90s, though Galbraith's wonderfully alien, cracking brogue/drawl is miles away from Dave Pearce's suffused sigh. Other longtime friends and fellow musicians contribute at various points -- Peter Jefferies adds piano to "Portrait," while Bruce Russell's organ on "Huxley" makes things even more unsettlingly off than before. For the most part, though, this is Galbraith and his own painstaking work, his sudden endings and unexpected lyrics up-ending the "sensitive soul with guitar and tape recorder" stereotype of lo-fi music. When he chooses to do so, suddenly thrilling, immediate passages are not beyond him -- consider the chorus of "More Than Magnetic," a lovely climax to the song as a whole. Otherwise his work is more obscure but no less rewarding, possessed of its own atypical appeal while showing much variety. Collectively, Morse feels like a slightly random assortment of songs instead of an album as a standalone set, which is actually probably part of its appeal -- a bit like stumbling across a strange archive from somewhere without a sense of what created it. CD versions included both the Gaudylight EP and an extra track, the fair enough "Cranes."