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Volume 90, Issue 95
Tuesday, March 25, 1997
A tasty, guitarless drug
In 1803, a German drug clerk isolated the primary active ingredient from opium and deemed it be morphine, naming it in an offering of sorts to the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. After the auditory experience of Like Swimming, the latest offering from Morphine, one highly suspects the band is in full knowledge of the origin of its name.
Like Swimming, the band's fourth album, opens with a mesmerizing tranquil instrumental, setting the surreal atmosphere for the rest of the album. The sounds are heavy and resonating, ranging from mischievous to sly, originating from at the most basic level a two-string slide bass, baritone sax and drums and, at other times, from a tenor sax, bass sax, double sax, tritar and a mellotron. Notably missing, almost entirely, is the guitar, as is Morphine's style. This exclusion is a welcome contrast to the majority of new music one hears. Not only does the band forsake the guitar but also does this extremely well, through the layered textures of other velvety rich and full instruments.
Morphine is a band of professionalism, personality and impeccable style with a twist, like the guy at the formal in the tux with the yellow high cut all-stars.
This style infects the lyrics, making the presentation of the song more important than the message. Exemplified in "Eleven O'Clock," there is but one line repeated over and over, yet the band manages to keep the song diverse. Other notable tracks: "French Fries w/ Pepper," which playfully slides around; "I Know You (Pt. III)," cynically sounding; "Like Swimming," the bold, bad and beat title track. "Swing it Low," the seducing last track, comes off as lyrical poetry such as, "I got buttons bursting in the air/Ideas run fingers through my hair/My shoes they are, ready to move/Our shoes are ready to move/Swing it low."
The unfortunate part of the album is that it clocks in at just under 40 minutes, interestingly enough, about the average time of a single sleep cycle. Overall the music is a quality soundtrack to a full night of lucid dreams.
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