It’s of course unfair to expect Mortinus to pull another revolutionary album out of the hat with his latest release “Morten”, especially now that many electronic fans would already have heard and enjoyed his EP “Orbit” or the self-titled “Mortinus”. But as always in the electronic field the expectations reach a ridiculous level when an artist drops a new recording, and it’s probably a good idea to tone them down a bit before hitting play. However, “Morten” is a really a good half an hour of music, with some of the artist’s best productions to date. So, if like me, you had high expectations, then you will be thoroughly satisfied with the results here.
Stylistically, “Morten” is as much of a big change from the Danish artist’s previous recordings as it is similar to them. It certainly covers a broader range of styles, being at times weird and experimental, and at others a lot more radio friendly. Morten’s attempt to cover a lot of stylistic ground does mean that you need to pay attention to what he is doing, like when we’re taken from track 1, the somewhat funky eastern-styled pop song “Mooi Nights”, to track 2, the mind-bending, almost Celtic sounding audio design of “Star Light”.
Mortinus’ production throughout “Morten” is flawless. The album is really tied together by consistent sound and sample choices. Every drum hit, synth patch and bass sample fit perfectly into the overall sound of the album, and Mortinus’ passion for experimental sample choices and sound design is what makes the tracks on the album worthwhile. The producer can even become edgy and futuristic on the occasion. Something he does with the thumping “Orange Nights”.
On the other hand, “Waves In June” definitely falls into the experimental category. Drawing us in with a strange, enigmatic hand-clapping rhythm, followed up by a powerful keyboard sample, all part of a wonderfully odd-paced build up, which develops into an intense anticipation. The strange harmonies and sound design of the song builds expectations, making you wait for the hard-hitting drop to come. The question is, “Will it come?”
“Evening At The Marketplace” is the album’s centerpiece, and previously released as a single. An Asian influenced soundscape, this track is one of Mortinus’ more accessible and melodic compositions, which is quite ready for radio play. It also shows us just how many sharp stylistic turns Mortinus takes us on through this album. “Mooi Dance” boasts wonderful shiny chord progressions and a spaced out production that will have you nodding your head along to the beat.
“Mooi Nights Part 2” switches between a lush chord progression and repeating synth sample and a dark drum groove. It’s a study in sonic manipulation, with every weird synth sound blending together to create an incredibly strange overall image. Maintaining a wonky heaviness throughout, it’s a very ambitious track.
“Morning Train” has a jungle rhythm, relying heavily on percussion for its essence, while “Eclipse” moves its paces through a more experimental atmosphere. “Blue Crystal Gemstones” sees a fleshed out arrangement featuring a violin as the lead instrument. By the time we get to “O”, it’s clear that the Danish electronic musician stands out among the many electronic artists creating music today because of his loose, experimental style—readily present throughout all of “Morten”, creating a slick, confident new album for Mortinus.
With sounds evoking a very earthy feel, “Morten” seems to be a reaction to the popular fascination with tropical sounds that have been front and center in pop music. Mortinus takes up the trend and twists it on its head, bringing in more Eastern and Asian style sounds creating a very interesting take on the typical energetic electronic music we have come to expect every summer.
“Morten” manages to be engaging, relaxing, booming, and dense all at once throughout most of its length, as it again switches styles on tracks such as “November”, November Part 2” and “Chant” – this last track featuring an adlibbing (chanting) vocal accompaniment. The end result, is an album willing to engage you on multiple levels, as long as you’re willing to listen.
“Morten” feels very much like a record sitting comfortably between two masters. On the one hand Mortinus is obviously aiming for more accessibility, but on the other without having to sacrifice too much of what makes him distinctive. He also occasionally explores more experimental and abrasive textures, and shows off plenty of his untapped potential on this record.