Morgan Packard - Airships Fill The Sky
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Morgan Packard
Airships Fill The Sky

Although he has put out several collaborative releases in the past, Airships Fill The Sky is the debut album from young artist Morgan Packard, who takes organic instrumentation and then pushes it into decidedly non-organic places through the use of extreme processing. Musically, the nine track release touches on everything from micro-house to textural ambient and minimal techno. Working with self-made software, Packard layers accordion, cello, and saxophone into his tracks, often leaving the original instruments unrecognizable.

The album titled "Airships Fill The Sky" opens the release and is one of several tracks that lets unfiltered instrumentation into the mix and stay there. On the track, a wheezy accordion breathes out in unstable ways before a thumping beat finally emerges out of the mist and keeps things locked in while other rattling percussive sounds tumbled through the mix. Other than a wobbly bassline, there isn't much in the way of melody in the track, and the album largely follows suit, honing in much more on hypnotic rhythms. "Mink Hills" is another exception to the rule, with multiple layers of cello swirling together over pitter-patter percussion, while "Waterbugs" clips off multiple layers of hazy textures to create a clicky, funky track that ripples with bursts of distortion.

Elsewhere, many of the loopy compositions get stuck in a bit of a rut when neither the melodic nor rhythmic elements are enough to really serve as a focal point. Tracks like "Dappled" and the two-part "A Place Worth Keeping" both have engaging moments and sound stellar in terms of their production, but stretched out over seven and nine minutes respectively, they wear out their welcome. A much more successful track is the album closer of "They Will Rise Forever," where a pinched, dirty bass is offset with sparkling chimes, bursts of filtered accordion, and other stuttering tones. Along with a clomping beat, it's the most engaging song on the entire release. Pity it should come clear at the end.

In addition to the CD album, there's also a DVD portion of the release called Unsimulatable that focuses in on Packard's relationship with digital artist Joshue Ott, who has also written custom software that allows him to create free-form animations based on Packard's music. The music on the DVD is largely different than the CD, with even more of a focus on abstract and even more dissonant textures and fractured rhythms. Ott's animations are beautiful at times, bursting out explosions of shading that look like spiraling ribbons, while at other times they stay more static, flickering with more subtle variations on color and gradients. Like the music on the actual album portion of the release, it's hit or miss, with beautiful moments that are offset by bland ones.

rating: 6.2510
Aaron Coleman 2007-08-02 20:35:50