|the waiting place||*.mp3|
|ghosts part 1||*.mp3|
|ghosts part 2||*.mp3|
|we'll watch it burn||*.mp3|
music written, produced and mixed by michael morton in 2011/12
mastered by manuel g. richter @ leafaudio - www.leaf-audio.com
artwork by crime league - www.crimeleague.net
packaging: 6 panel digipak
displacer is the solo electronic project of toronto-based electronic
musician and visual artist michael morton who began his career on the
'pre-set - new electronic music' compilation (mute records) in 2003. his
appearance on this compilation garnished the attention of the m-tronic label, on which he released 3 cds. and in 2008 he signed to tympanik audio where he released 3 more albums and established himself as a driving force in the world of modern dark electronic music. in addition, displacer struck a relentless performance path, playing live alongside artists such as xingu hill, s:cage and haujobb, and remixed the likes of claire voyant, architect, converter, beefcake & monstrum sepsis amongst many others.
utilizing an impressive backdrop of sounds, moods, and composition
techniques since his first album, 'foundation' brings the melodic
ambient-oriented side of displacer‘s broad reservoir of styles into focus.
analog electronic equipment, samples, field recordings and acoustic instrumentation have been used to generate highly emotive atmospheres. friends in the music industry like sekou lumumba, mark spybey and keef baker have contributed to the sonic mixture. each composition melds elaborated beatwork, dark basslines and haunting ambient spheres with a warm organic flood of emotive layers, tones and tempers. click-hop, idm and saturnine ambient are interwoven with strong doses of experimental ingredients - a unique interpretation of meaningful post-industrialized beauty and melancholia.
proceed with the patience of repeated listening, it is definitely worth the emotional investment.
a mixture of solids, liquids and opaque gases, each piece rattles effortlessly as a series of ingredients melt together in a fuzzy subatomic layer. submerging ambience, rugged beats and smoldering bass, foundation peals yet another layer of displacer’s inspiring audio-visual skills. i’ll step forward right now—a slight bias towards michael morton’s displacer alias is ever present as you read these words. without delving too far into displacer’s recent history, it is safe to say he’s continued to expand upon chilled post-industrial trip hop iterations and has been featured on two heavyweight imprints such as m-tronic and tympanik audio over the past decade. with 2011's night gallery (tympanik audio) the “post-industrial insignia associated with displacer is stripped away in place of a more plasmic flow of evolved production skills.” this is the case on his latest album signed to germany’s highly-regarded hymen records. with foundation being his eight offering for fellow inhabitants of this circular cosmic spot, how has the artist pushed forward—if at all—with foundation? perhaps the most accomplished album to date, foundation is an apt title that digs several feet below the surface to inspect the infrastructure of displacer’s sound collage. a mixture of solids, liquids and opaque gases, each piece rattles effortlessly as a series of ingredients melt together in a fuzzy subatomic layer. submerging ambience, rugged beats and smoldering bass, foundation peals yet another layer of displacer’s inspiring audio-visual skills. opening with the bass-infused buzz of “dark star,” perhaps an ode to the classic film, the analog machinery is all tuned and ready for subsequent light rays of its adjacent audio entities. “totality,” “distress call,” “space parts,” and “outland”—which appeared on tympanik audio’s emerging organisms volume 4 in 2011—are the crowning achievements. each piece contains the splintered strands of displacer’s dna. thick patches of percussion, rolling low-end rumblings and an industrial backbone has these tracks in fluid motion and flowing emotion. the twin peaks of “ghosts part 1?—a silent moving, invisible ambient piece—is offset with its “part 2? counterpart displaying a droning guitar thread of stargazed lushness. these two pieces as well as the marching dynamics of “moonrise,” the dub-techno thump of “firebug,” to the brooding undercurrent of “warbound” could perhaps ignite future album themes as they segue into shifting genres on foundation. but just as you begin to wrap your head and ears around the push-pull effect of foundation‘s sonic pallet, “we’ll watch it burn” hints at a more relaxed shoegazed effort as does the closing atmospheric fog of “leviathan.” sandwiched inside these waves of mild turbulence you’ll find that “red sky” takes a simmering approach to the downbeat landscape—lightly weaving calmed percussion and emanating like the casino vs japan’s classic go hawaii from a decade ago—its pseudo-hawaiian rhythm burst is both enlightening and entrancing. if the above-mentioned bias derails your intentions to snap up this gem, then i’m glad you read this entire review as foundation is really stands on its own whether or not you’re familiar with displacer’s body of work.
as has been pointed out by countless record critics before me, it’s hard to see where the “intelligent” part of “intelligent dance music” comes into the picture. much like jazz (the other notorious form of “smart people’s music“), the suggestion is that if you like idm it’s because you’re a staggering genius of superlative taste and critical pedigree, and if you don’t it’s because you’re just too dumb to get it. to my mind, displacer’s michael morton bucks the whole idm problem somewhat, because the sort of technoid, industrial-rooted idm he makes abandons impenetrable polyrhythms and complex granular programming to focus on emotion and texture. it’s not smart music (which is not to suggest that it’s dumb either), it’s thoughtful music, and that distinction is abundantly clear on his new release foundation, his first for hymen after a few multi-album tours of duty on m-tronic and tympanik. like all his records it speaks to a desire to render feeling from an inherently cold and mechanical form of music, and like those records again, does so by virtue of its delicate touch and eye towards the experience it provides the listener. all of that brings us to one of the most important things about displacer’s work, that the focus is always on a finespun, transparent engagement with the audience. we certainly can’t know what morton’s process was when recording a song like “the waiting place”, but the way in which its rich bassy tones give rise to cloudy synths that eventually resolve into string-like pads are too careful to be coincidental, but not so showy as to spoil the immersion. similarly, the rhythmic shift mid-album signaled by the straight kick-snare pattern on “firebug” is executed subtly enough that it’s almost imperceptible unless you’re actively listening for it; by the time you notice the album’s emphasis on tempo has changed up you’ll be halfway through the dubby “distress call” and on your way towards the slow-build climax of “warbound”. the route also herds you through the terse and rubbery “outland” and the *ahem* ghostly whispers of “ghosts pt. 2?, but the pace is fairly unrushed and the scenery involving. perhaps an inevitable result of the emphasis on keeping things understated is that foundation never reaches out to grab the ear of the listener. unlike say, beefcake (a band who’s influence on much of displacer’s catalogue is palpable), there’s never any attempt to snap you out of the trance it lulls you into with a blast of sound or sudden left turn. even “spare parts”‘ flirtations with putting a chattery rhythm out in front of the slabs of composed sound have a reserved quality to them, and when things go full-on ambient with the final song “leviathan” the tenor remains the same as everything that preceded it. that’s a contextual issue more than anything else, and if we measure the success of an album by how interesting it is (which i do, with actual listenability coming a fairly close second) rather than how many times it made us jump out of our seats via some unexpected twist, foundation does well. it’s a good record by a great talent, and one that underscores the value of attentiveness and warmth as a creative ends. (alex)
displacer treibt sein musikalisches unwesen schon seit 2003 auf verschiedenen labels und ist mit foundation nun bei hymen gelandet. das ganze album strotzt nur so von harmonie, sanften flächen und ruhigen melodien. die eingesetzten beats sind zwar nicht überwiegend gradlinig aber auch nicht zu experimentell oder auseinandergerissen und dominieren nicht zu stark in den einzelnen tracks, gehen aber auch nicht unter. foundation ist einfach vollkommen ausgeglichen. jeder tracks in sich ist schlüssig, abgerundet, mal sehr sanft, mal etwas aufgewühlter. hier und da werden einzelne akzente gesetzt, die aufzeigen, dass displacer auch auch wert auf vermeintliche kleinigkeiten und nebensächlichkeiten legt. zwischendurch werden auch mal etwas härtere töne angeschlagen, wie es zum beispiel bei distress call der fall ist, aber diese fallen nicht so sehr aus den rahmen um das gesamtbild zu trüben. foundation ist vollgepackt mit warmen, organischen klängen, ausgereifte elektronik und beats. wo andere bewusst auf disharmonien und gegenläufige rhythmik setzen, was durchaus auch seinen reiz hat, greift displacer ganz tief in die wohlfühlkiste und zaubert so ein wundervolles album wie foundation hervor. teilweise scheinen vergleiche zu altmeistern wie jean michel jarre gar nicht mal so abwegig. foundation könnte als eine moderne form des sphärischen ambient-elektro gesehen werden, eben jene musik, die unweigerlich ein warmes gefühl beim hörer auslöst. dass elektronische musik nicht zwangsläufig kalt klingen muss haben etliche musiker bereits bewiesen, aber displacer legt noch eine schippe oben drauf und heizt das ganze quasi noch etwas mehr an. displacer setzt auf harmonien, warme sounds und flächen und ist somit der ideale begleiter für, zum beispiel, nächtliche autofahrten.
it’s nice to see mile morton on a roll with his displacer project; it seems like barely two minutes have gone by since the fantastic ‘night gallery’ graced my hi fi and now we have ‘foundation’ released on his new home at the well-respected hymen label. opener ‘dark star’ is the epitome of the perfect intro; gradual washes of electronics and understated beats to waken the listener gradually and ease into the low tempo ‘the waiting place’. it would be lazy of me to draw reference from other acts this first track proper brings to mind, but it’s impossible not to. imagine the more laid-back ambient and koto pathways of bitcrush frequently nibbled at with scratching percussion-like elements and you will be somewhat close. ‘totality’ fuses my first impressions but broadens the horizon somewhat; fuzz guitar separating the concoction further, yet evident that this is first and foremost a pure chill out album, once the blissful ‘red sky’ climaxes. what i love with this latest release is the blend of opposing forces at play; mike has once again gelled the medium of dark and light without ever heading into grey territory. there is a clarity and purity to this latest piece of work that manages to hold warmth on the emotional front whilst still remaining mechanical electronically, as the excellent ‘distress call’ and minutely raucous ‘spare parts’ will attest to. ‘foundation’ is one of those albums that will have many an alternative electronics fan chomping at the bit and one where mike morton has come into his own. yes there are comparisons to many throughout, with nods at gridlock on ‘we’ll watch it burn’ and footnotes that remind me of what has come before genre wise, but displacer 2012 truly has something that cannot be taken away from him as a force in its own right; that he has joined his peers in being one of those artists that will inspire creativity in others moving forward.
idm has always been a love/hate genre for me. i have the impression many artists are only in it to be interesting. but there are albums in this genre which are absolutely stunning in their beauty like autechre's 'incunabula', gridlock's 'formless' or arovane's 'lillies'. this new album of canada's displacer is certainly amongst these classics. the album has what i like most about idm. interesting musical ideas, executed with beautiful sounds, warm meandering synthesizers and glitchy complex rhythmns. it takes you on a listening trip and although it is not very original in its execution, i always like having stuff like this in my record collection for the sunny summer days to relax and enjoy. idm hasn't really evolved since the days of the first artificial intelligence albums on warp, but as long as good quality albums keep being released i am not complaining. overal displacer keeps his songs short and snappy and as such we get an interesting album with relatively fast changing textures. sometimes to short, because a song like "totality" sounds so good to me, i would have liked it to last for 10 minutes instead of the 2 minutes and 30 seconds it lasts now. but thats the only minor detail on this album for me.another favorite for me is "moonrise" which reminds me a lot of the better works of plaid. people who are into good quality idm will find in this album a very good addition to their collection. if you are into acts like the early autechre, plaid, arovane or astrobotnia this one is a must have. (pieter winkelaar)
from the earlier work released by m-tronic to the more recent albums released by tympanik i’ve always fully enjoyed the sound intelligence of this canadian sound wizard. joining the hymen roster displacer simply moves on with the exploration of electronic noises and i couldn’t resist to share my enthusiasm with some of you… who maybe still have to discover this opus. “foundation” clearly fits to the idm definition. the minimalism of the writing and global intelligence of the creation both remain the keywords to describe the work of morton. the sound influences are quite multiple while the input of several guest musicians (like victoria lloyd and mark spybey) create a rather diversified work. i can’t really say there’s a duality in sound rather than a perfect symbiosis between cinematographic passages, down-tempo rhythms and refined bleeps. it’s hard to say if “foundation” now is the absolute apotheosis in morton’s career, but the work perfectly matches with displacer’s evolution in sound all over the years. the diversity between the tracks makes it fascinating. from the minimal-like and subtle opening cuts to a more evasive part the album progressively moves towards more sophisticated and dynamic parts. i like this progression in the tracklist, which slowly reaches a few absolute major tracks entitled “distress call” and “spare parts”. i get the impression that the tracklist was conceived as a classical music composition. the tracks appear like little pieces of a sonic puzzle. from the sound intelligence of idm to the mysterious electro-ambient side mixing dark moods and astral passages this work is a fine selection of high tech music composed by an electronic alien. conclusion: it’s hard to say if “foundation” can be considered displacer’s best album ever, but there’s no doubt about it this is one of michael morton’s major releases… the kind of work that will enter into history!
foundation. cd. hymen records ¥805. 2012
night gallery. cd. tympanik audio ta053. 2011
lost mission ep. digital ep. tympanik audio td005. 2009
x was never like this... . cd. tympanik audio ta032. 2009
the witching hour. cd. tympanik audio ta008. 2008
b(uddha)-sides. digital album. crime league cl-002. 2006
remixes for free?. digital album. crime league cl-001. 2006
cage fighter's lullaby. cd. m-tronic ca20. 2006
arroyo. cd. m-tronic mg12. 2004
moon_phase. cd. m-tronic b5. 2003
displacer official webpages: