Morning Recordings: The Welcome Kinetic
Loose Thread

One of the major upsides of producing textura is occasionally discovering wonderful music that might otherwise have remained unknown—a case in point Morning Recordings. Ostensibly the brainchild of one-time Melochrome member Pramod Tummala, the group issued a 2005 debut titled Music for Places and now returns with the splendid follow-up The Welcome Kinetic. The recording isn't a solo affair, however, as its extensive personnel listing makes clear: The Coctails' Barry Phipps contributes vocals and multiple instrumental sounds, Drag City's Edith Frost and Venesa Gonzalez sing too, and Eric Bandurski, Jon Hensley, Thomas Stanley, Justin Mayer, Louis Trempe, and Chris Erin flesh out the group's eclectic sound (instruments include vibraphone, cellos, horns, musical saw, trumpet, hammered dulcimer, banjo, violimba, Japanese table harp, electronic tamboura, etc).

The Welcome Kinetic is distinguished by lush vocal harmonies, swooning melodies, a rich instrumental palette, and an odd predilection for 3/4 time. Though instrumentals like the vibraphone- and trumpet-led fanfare “The One Hundred Hills” and the title song's breezy, Rhodes-kissed post-rock are certainly credible enough, such pieces are secondary when the vocal pieces are illuminated so vividly by the singing quality. Four of the latter in particular stand out: sounding, believe it or not, like a lost lulling waltz from Before and After Science, “Sugar Waltz” pairs softly cooing female vocals with an Eno-esque male vocal melody (Morning Recordings' arranging talents also come to the fore here in the sleigh bells that keep percussive time alongside the organ and electric guitar). Even better is “We Loved the City Years” which boasts one of the most lovely vocal melodies heard in recent memory, and the group blends its multiple voices into a swooning sigh that's truly gorgeous. “In Twilight” features glorious vocals that sweep into view over a hazily lilting base, while Frost lends her golden voice to the dramatic ballad “Songs from a Hotel Bar” before moving aside for a beautiful horn episode. Arriving completely out of left field, the Chicago outfit's lilting sound comes as a wonderful and wholly refreshing surprise.

November 2007