Posted on January 19th, 2015 (11:00 am) by Casey Bauer

Against the odds, the Chicago-based trio, Moritat, is releasing their second record, High Plus Tight. It's a collection of songs that was literally found swept under the rug.

A few years back, Moritat's apartment in Chicago was robbed of all equipment—instruments, computers, songs—everything necessary to create and record their music. This incident devastated them, leaving them to start from scratch. A few years later, the band went on to release their debut album, Clill Blanzin. It's a hell of a title, but an otherwise enjoyable collection with a little bit of everything you could want. In 2013, however, keyboardist and female vocalist, Venus Laurel, found a CD-R under the carpet of their studio, boldly labeled, “HIGH PLUS TIGHT.” Its contents were a collection of “beat oriented tracks,” recorded on a laptop years before and thought to have been lost in the burglary. Now, this blast from the past has resulted in the band's latest album.

Not quite an EP and not quite a full-length album, High Plus Tight is a confident six-track release, dabbling in a little bit of synth pop, indie, and experimental rock, but in all honesty, the style is a pretty hard one to pinpoint. Very rarely following a traditional song structure, Moritat's idiosyncratic sound is indeed odd, but it's in no way off-putting or threatening. In fact, High Plus Tight is the perfect blend of strange, enchanting, and avant garde.

“Visits” opens the album with an amiable synth and a completely unpredictable bass line and drumset beat. The combo is mildly surprising and yet so comfortably pleasant, the first minute could easily be a satisfying instrumental track if the band felt so inclined. However, not a band to make us too accustomed to an idea, the vocals kick in with, “wide awake, rattlesnake, in my bones, in my bones, part of me, part of you, parts of you, out of touch, out of tune.” Pretty nonsensical, yes, but it's also gorgeous and necessary to hear in context to fully appreciate. The vocals sever, double back unexpectedly, and then lazily drift on into fuller, more concise sentences from an ethereal Laurel in the background. All the while, that funky bass guitar plays on and the pitter-patter of the hi-hat is as soothing as rain.

Other tracks are just as rewarding, while still being diverse enough to keep the listener on their toes. “Starry” recalls that same loveable drumset beat, but with a warmer soundscape, complete with trumpet-like synth harmonies and vocals more conducive to singing along. “We'd” and “Lond” are easily the most obscure tracks, particularly the latter. Being instrumental, save for a few morphed “oohs” and “ahhs” and some indiscernible traces of half-words, “Lond” is a series of sporadic sounds bouncing off of one another in a seemingly disjointed manner. However, halfway through, a drum beat kicks in, tying everything together in a perfectly experimental segue track.

The album closes out with “The Lips, They Move,” a gradually dark, cavernous track that haunts, but also titillates. Odd, distorted soundclips of rambling chants and percussive, nonsensical vocals break up the songs oceanic-like depths and reverberating bass beats. In short, it's just a really strange and cool song.

High Plus Tight is an album that never should have been, but lucky for us, the band decided to sweep under the carpet. Unique and always interesting, Moritat is an experimental band that manages to stay grounded and entice listeners, rather than intimidate or scare them away. While the album is a little short, it only makes us all the more excited for something more down the road. Perhaps someone should tell them to clean under the bed.

Track List:

  1. Visits
  2. Starry
  3. We'd
  4. Long
  5. Glass
  6. The Lips, They Move
Moritat - High Plus Tight Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

82 / 100
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