Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Stones Throw
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Chrome CanyonElemental Themes[Stones Throw; 2012]By Joshua Pickard; October 30, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetIf '80s synth-pop and early '90s R&B can make a comeback and work their way into the indie collective consciousness with little resistance, why not synth-based prog? As it turns out, Los Angeles-based label Stones Throw thinks that people are ready for just that. The debut album from Chrome Canyon, aka New York artist Morgan Z, aims for and hits an odd balance between Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd and Yes’ prog rock album Fragile. Unlike those bands though, the tracks which comprise Elemental Themes are almost entirely constructed without guitars and rely exclusively on the shimmering synths and hammering beats to convey their intent and obvious love for all things synthetically symphonic.
Moving to a new label just before the release of Elemental Themes, Morgan Z (aka Chrome Canyon) made a “Soundtracks” mixtape that compiled classic themes by artists such as Tangerine Dream (Risky Business), Giorgio Moroder (Cat People), and Wendy Carlos (A Clockwork Orange). It was the simplest way to explain the inspiration for his instrumental, analog synthesizer-filled debut, possibly the most far out release by Stones Throw. What's craziest about Chrome Canyon is that he sticks so tightly to his John Carpenter-esque vision that his music sounds flat-out authentic.
The appeal of laser light shows seems pretty obvious: the colors, the music, the whole retro thing, the lying down. The being high. And, of course, the laser beams. I have no idea if New York musician and analog synth freak Morgan Z, who records halogen-coated, futuristic movie anthems as Chrome Canyon, has ever attended one of these events.
When you think of electronic music, you probably might think of a sleek futuristic soundtrack that presents or portends a vision of things to come – the most revolutionary acts mine sounds that have yet to be seemingly coaxed out of computers at the time of their respective releases. Think how unordinary Radiohead’s Kid A was to the most mainstream listener upon its debut, and you might get a sense of the uncanny electronica seems to push towards. Chrome Canyon – the alias for Brooklyn’s Morgan Z – has it the other way, in reverse.