Morris Cowan - Circa
Back when he used to be called Taylor, Adam Taylor always stuck out a bit from the rest of the already bizarre Wigflex crew. His elastic and tracky sound seems more inspired by tech house than the usual UK garage touchstones, yet still blessed with UK bass music's excess of colour and melody. It was a tendency best exemplified by the stunning "CMB" on Raffertie's Super Recordings, a track that seemed designed as much with a cathedral in mind as a dance floor.
Taylor is now calling himself Morris Cowan, an alias that made its proper debut with a full album on Traum Schallplatten sublabel Zaubernuss earlier this year. It's a further exploration of that densely layered sound. It would be impossible to do these details justice without taking several hundred words more than you're likely willing to read. Take opener "Cavern Jive," which nicely sets the tone: loping along leisurely, it seems to pass through alternate dimensions blissfully unaware as phased strings, meandering bleeps and acid squawks wander out methodically like a parade of garishly coloured floats. The sense of straitlaced momentum that lingers throughout lends Taylor's music an air of regality, made literal on a track "Desire Line" where the gorgeous tones from "CMB" return, a fairytale pastoral painted in rustic pastel. It's slow and majestic, but tempered with childlike fantasy and a plasticine pallor.
Circa is an album of speedy, vibrant tech house tools, spat out in rainbow squelch, a toned-down acid that squelches where so much other UK bass music hysterically swells and contracts. "Hivern Chimera" dices minimal techno into Pantha-lite, feeding off itself for a delicate urgency that doesn't taint the album's easygoing flow while "Sunnyville" is probably the album's rudest track, all richochet chic soaked in dub techno reverb. Daring enough to satisfy those reared on constantly hybridizing UK music but reserved enough to fulfill those who are looking for solid "mnml" with a little extra detail, Circa requires a bit of patience.
Even after countless intimate and close listens I'm not sure I'll ever fully comprehend it. But that's not the point: This is music to discover each and every time, not to memorize.
Words: Andrew Ryce
Buy: Morris Cowan - Circa
01. Cavern Jive
02. Hasten Chimera
05. Desire Line
Released: March 2011
Style: Tech House