Chrome Canyon: Elemental Themes – album review

Chrome Canyon Elemental Themes (Stones Throw Records)
CD / DL / LP
9th October 2012

Chrome Canyon’s debut album, Elemental Themes, is soon to receive its full release. Our man, Chris Hearn, was lucky enough to get his hands on a pre-release copy & quite frankly he has been totally blown away by it’s brilliance.

Elemental Themes is gigantic album filled with glorious and wonderful sounds; an absolutely surreal work of true sonic art! If the laws of gravity were suddenly repealed and we began to drift off into outer space, this should be the mandatory background music thread into our heads through crystal clear headphones as we float with our eyes closed in zero gravity. This is the soundtrack for the greatest sci-fi movie never created.

Stunningly epic is an excellent way to describe this project by Morgan Z. Absolutely stunning. There are little surprises left and right, like a touch of classical guitar in “Chasing the Dead” or the pleasant, smooth jazz saxophone (not so bizarre seeing as he studied jazz at a place called New School in New York City) on the otherwise very Clockwork Orange sounding title track.

A good part of “Memories of a Scientist” (see below) sounds brilliantly like the opening theme for a 70’s buddy cop drama TV-show filled with fun and hijinx and an important message about not breaking the law. It’s a futuristic blast from the past reminding me of a show that, once again, never existed.

Lyrics pop up in “Elemental Themes” in a robotic sounding call out for friendship, and in “Carfire on the Highway” which offers some creepy, freaky pitch-shifted, spoken word.

All of this beauty and wonder wasn’t created on a computer; all sounds are created with analog instruments. Apparently, Mr. Z started to collect synthesizers and keyboards like crazy after the group he was in, Apes and Androids, closed shop. From what I can tell, Morgan Z played everything on this album in his own studio in Brooklyn, New York. I can picture him closeted up in there for days on end, not sleeping, not eating: just creating. Whether that was the case or not, I don’t know. Mr. Z has already made a name for himself and was commissioned by Foster the People to do a remix of their song “Pumped Up Kicks”. And, based on this album, Z should go down as one of the great musicians of our time.

It should also be noted that this was the final album engineered by Nilesh Patel (Air, Bjork, Daft Punk) who passed away late last year. He has been praised by electronic artists everywhere for his work, and clearly, his influence sealed the deal in creating this masterpiece.

And, on a small visual tangent, if you want to know what this sounds like without listening to it, take a look at the promo pic of Morgan Z over here. A picture says a thousand words of course, and this futuristic mad scientist, staring off into the distant future sums up this project perfectly. This is probably one of the best PR shots I have seen in a long time. I love it! And, speaking of visuals, a video he created for “Branches” using footage he took from the roof of his studio is just beautifully done. (see below).

To put it bluntly, this is just an amazing piece of work; absolutely spectacular. Morgan Z is nothing short of a genius for creating this incredibly detailed, layered, bizarre, fulfilling, cerebral album. I can’t say enough good things about “Elemental Themes”. It is essentially flawless. It needs no changes. It is perfect the way it is. Period.

All words by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.

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Deep in the heart of Canada, on the north shore of frigid Lake Superior, is a town called Thunder Bay. That\'s where I am from. That\'s where I started to write. And that is where I started to discover music. Now, I\'m a married man with two boys. I still love music. I still go to shows. And I still visit Thunder Bay, even though I haven\'t lived there for many years. What will you find on my iPod? You\'ll find lot of Americana, classic country, heavy stuff, punk and plenty of “guilty pleasures”.

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