Thursday, December 12, 2013

George Morris & the Gypsy Chorus

Music after the Internet has created a vast gray area. Inside it, rock bands can go electro, DJs can play acoustic guitars, rappers can make Yeezus and cyborgs and sing about being human. It’s not so black and white….

But then there’s George Morris, a talented singer/songwriter with an ear for pop and a resume filled with rock, who has an EP coming out that’s heavily electronic, sequenced beats and tricky techno-effects…and some guitars too.

George shrugs at me with a shy, self-deprecating smile, shaking his head at his own motives.
“I guess I called it…the Black and White EP ‘cuz…the videos we just shot for some songs were…filmed in black-and-white…”

He ends his sentence with an upward inflection, like he’s questioning it out-loud or like he hasn’t figured it out yet. But at the same time, he has figured it out. The EP’s done. It’s ready. Besides, George knows, for the most part, what to put the most stress on, it’s not album titles so much as it’s the songs, the melodies, the structures; it’s not his past hang-ups over synths or distinctly “electro-sounding” music. The equipment, whether it’s a fender or a moog, shouldn’t matter as much anymore.

The stress, or the highlight, or really, what matters, in a George Morris song, is often his singing voice: a pretty , wispy thing, pinched to a nasal tone symptomatic to any rustbelt-dweller’s characteristic inflection but curled in its corners with an affectation resonant with all the Brit-pop (60’s/90’s) he’s ingested in his musical upbringing.

What happens next is the EP comes out…at some point. But then what? 

“Reshuffling…frequent…rapid…capricious…unpredictable…permanence…?” Those are the words that come up most often as we discuss how much sense, if any at all, can be made from the erratic ebbs and flows and overall erratic logistics of the modern music industry and its galaxy of scenes, its littered nebula of niches…Fuck it!

The world of bands has changed quite a bit since George Morris was flown out to the west coast ten eight years ago with his high school band, The Satin Peaches, to sign a big record contract with a big record label. Ho, those days are long gone! Everyone’s on the field, now, all at once, but no one’s carrying the ball. Is there a ball? The whistle’s smashed and the scoreboard’s on the fritz. Where’s the goal line?

It’s that curious and frightening power: utterly enabled and liberated to try whatever and whenever in-spite of the exhausted status-quo forms of the past. That’s why this singer/songwriter, who’d spent nine of the last ten years associated with a rock band – has gone electro.

George says he’d never considered himself a rock-song writer, so to speak; the songs you’ll hear on the Black & White EP came from a writing approach he’s usually followed in the past – just with different equipment. This isn’t like Thom Yorke leaping from Radiohead’s psych-ish rock anthemics of Ok Computer into the knottier electronica of Atoms For Peace… It’s not that weird or even ostentatious. No, these are pretty pure pop songs, strung along by swingy melodies and those hazy vocals fluttering down instantaneously sing-a-long-able phrases; the lyrics are lashed with post-apocalyptic affairs, parodying post-internet nihilism- but charming with their simple poetry, fitting nicely, somehow, to the organs chilly tones.  

And that voice – it lilts along with a feathery quality, a bit bleary at points as though this is a new voice for him that he’s only just rousing to wakefulness, sporadically puncturing through with a throatier warble – So this is Morris on a new morning. A more electronic morning.

Morris isn’t concerned with contracts anymore, so much as he’s focused on how a band even operates in this zany internet world. Step 1 – get a band: (Aaron Nelson on bass, Zach Pliska on drums and Helena Kirby on keys), so that you can face the exciting and unpredictable stormy internet seas together, as a Chorus, a Gypsy Chorus.

Keep your ears peeled for the Black and White EP - The Gypsy Chorus hope to release it sometime in mid-Winter or shortly thereafter. 

Next show: New Year's Eve

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