morly – “sleeping in my own bed”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

katy morley’s work has always been arresting.  under the mononym morly, she has thus far produced two swirling, ethereal extended plays, 2015’s in defense of my muse and last spring’s something more holy, collections that paired a strong pop sensibility with the catharsis of sparse, minimalist dance music.

next month, morly will release sleeping in my own bed, a three-song 12″ single that gravitates towards a more organic approach to songwriting.  the end result is gorgeous; “sleeping in my own bed” finds morly’s aching lead vocal more prominent than it’s ever been, working in tandem with a sprawling acoustic piano accompaniment to create a plaintive, comparatively straightforward pop song.

despite a new focal point, morly’s sonic touchstones continue to be integral to this permutation of her aesthetic: the rhythm section takes a supporting role this time around, but still stretches out when necessary, and choral pads swell to add a celestial veneer to the track’s more expansive moments.  regardless of which facet she explores, morly proves time and again that the precise combination of simple ingredients will yield a downright magical product.

sleeping in my own bed is out august 25th via cascine.  take a listen to its title track below.

morly – something more holy

morly ep cover
out april 8th via cascine

at the outset of her career, it appeared as if morly would be content exploring the emotional ceiling of minimal, ambient-indebted dance music.  much of her debut ep, in defense of my muse, operates within these confines; only on its finale does she finally allow us to hear her voice.  in that context, “drone poem (in defense of my muse)” was an anomaly, but now it feels much more like a prelude.

morly’s sophomore ep, the beautiful something more holy, is an about-face, a decidedly vocal-centric body of work that finds the producer and singer maximizing each facet of her minimalist palette.  morly’s vocals inject energy and tension into the brooding, resting heart rate pulse of “if only chords,” while “by the polo pond” is particularly commanding, its rather bleak thematics delivered atop a synthetic brass section for extra emphasis.

but perhaps the most important voices aren’t the ones carrying the main melody.  the ep’s title track is largely constructed around a bevy of vocal manipulations, ones that both support morly’s lyrics and juxtapose their smooth contour with a more angular polyrhythm; “plucky” uses similarly-manipulated textures to flesh out underlying harmonies.

something more holy again leaves much to be desired, but only in terms of quantity, certainly not quality.  the ep’s physical release is paired with its predecessor; played in succession, the two outline an expansive, virtually limitless foundation for morly to further construct her sonic architecture.  we’ll be waiting – albeit a bit impatiently – to hear what she builds next.

 

morly – “plucky”

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

morly is sitting on her sophomore ep, something more holy, due out april 8th via the inimitable cascine.  the minneapolis-bred producer and songwriter has since pulled up roots and relocated to los angeles, but her home state’s chilly atmosphere lingers in her compositions; the ep’s second single, “plucky,” is bundled up in morly’s tranquil vocals and dexterous drum programming, while steely tones work to generate more heat on the off-beats.  take a listen below.

morly – “if only chords”

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

morly’s blend of minimalist, down-tempo electronic music is the perfect recipe for reflection.  after dropping off in defense of my muse, one of our favorite eps of 2015, the los angeles-based producer and songwriter will return with something more holy, out april 8th via cascine.  her sophomore ep’s opening track, “if only chords,” is yet another voice-centric composition, resting its laurels on unexpected resolutions and a stuttering beat that gradually converges with a murky low-end.  listen to “if only chords” below.

morly – “the choir”

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

minneapolis native morly dropped off “the choir” last month, a haunting work of minimalist electronica that remains one of the strongest singles of 2016.  morly’s follow-up to last year’s excellent in defense of my muse is due out in april via cascine, but in the meantime she’s teamed with gina gammell on a music video for “the choir,” based around moody, affective choreography that fluctuates with the song’s points of tension and release.  check out the clip below.

morly – “the choir”

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

morly’s debut ep, in defense of my muse, was one of our favorites of 2015, and katy morley has already put forth one of the most impressionable songs yet this year.  “the choir,” a standalone single for cascine, straddles the space between haunting and ethereal, pairing morly’s affinity for seismic bass tones with a commanding lead vocal that gradually cedes the foreground to distant saxophone bleats and sputtering drum production.  listen to “the choir” below.

best of 2015: eps

korg rhythm 55the ep is a beloved format here at the dimestore, the perfect stop-gap for artists in between full-length projects and an extended offering for those just beginning to imprint their dna in music’s genome.  the five selections from 2015 skew largely towards the latter; dive into our picks below.

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diet cig over easydiet cig – over easy

you’d be hard-pressed to find a duo that had more flat-out fun in 2015 than diet cig.  the new paltz two-piece offered up their debut ep, over easy, early this year, a compact five-song venture into jubilant power chords and flippant observations about the waning moments of teenagedom.  diet cig may market themselves as slop-pop, but there’s nothing sloppy about alex luciano’s underlying wit, or how she accosts small-town narcissism on “scene sick” and gloriously howls “fuck your ivy league sweater” at the climax of “harvard.”  more of this in 2016, please.

pools to bathe inthe japanese house – pools to bathe in

a co-sign from the 1975 certainly helped amplify exposure, but amber bain would have snuck into the internet’s collective awareness regardless.  her work as the japanese house thus far is affecting, a haunting palette of minimalist textures wrapped around bain’s penchant for stacking brooding vocals.  although her second ep of 2015, clean, already showcased bain expanding her horizons, pools to bathe in feels like definitive japanese house, from the warped acoustic guitar foundation of the ep’s title track to the chilling narrative of an alter-ego on “sister.”  in an era when pristine, layered production is as coveted as ever, the japanese house serves as an acute example of how to subvert that practice’s outcome and obtain an incredibly intimate final product.

Morly - In Defense of My Muse WEBmorly – in defense of my muse

cascine is our reigning label of the year in part because they regularly brought exceptional acts like morly to the forefront of our inbox.  on in defense of my muse, katy morley harnesses the dexterity and beautiful simplicity of fragmented piano melodies and weaves them through sparse electronic soundscapes, resulting in a body of work that can be just as euphoric as it is ominous.  case in point: “and sooner than we know it…” briefly emerges from an eerie choral haze to indulge in a subdued dancehall catharsis, but the surrounding tracks ascertain that morly is ultimately a project of introspection, not delayed hedonism.

sayth body pillowsayth & north house – body pillow

eric wells and alex tronson held down the art of the short-form record for the wisconsin/minnesota border in 2015.  on body pillow, tronson’s moody amalgamation of trap beats and polychrome textures coaxes out some of sayth’s densest lyrical material yet, from sharp commentary on the perpetual state of limbo felt by twenty-somethings to heart-rending, vivid navigations of fleeting romance.  body pillow also aligns many of the salient members of wells’ burgeoning collective, lowkey radical; wealthy relative creams the ep’s sole guest verse on “a formal apology to grandma wells” while baby blanket made his inaugural appearance on the hook of “maybe god is afraid of us?”  but some of the finest moments happen without any outside help.  closing number “pink pistols” pads lush synth swells and stuttering drums around an ode to sayth’s entire contingent, which compounds rapidly and builds towards the ep’s final, visceral couplet: “macklemore made a million off of gay rights / thanks bro, this is actually my real life.”

yumi zouma ep iiyumi zouma – ep ii

being spread across the globe doesn’t seem to hinder yumi zouma; if anything, the quartet thrives off of displacement.  our reigning best new artists turned in their much-anticipated second ep mere months after receiving the accolade, one that showcases a more intricate understanding of how to intertwine soaring hooks and intimate textures.  “alena” and “catastrophe” are both baleric anthems, indulging in their respective melodies to craft compositions that feel like extroverted extensions of the subdued persona yumi zouma initially embodied, but they’re necessary foils if the desired end-result is “song for zoe & gwen,” the universal missing component from every 1980s soundtrack that finally pairs the band’s nostalgic sonic palette with thematics of the same stature.

morly – in defense of my muse

Morly - In Defense of My Muse WEB
out august 14th via cascine

katy morley removes the e from her surname and performs as morly, and this subtractive practice embeds itself in her music.  after disappearing into her bedroom with a handful of instruments in 2013, the minnesota songwriter emerged earlier this year with in defense of my muse, an incredibly-focused debut ep containing a smattering of haunting, minimalist compositions.

the intimacy of in defense of my muse should feel immediate.  morly is adept at crafting microcosmic worlds of sound that each have their own storied histories, from the juxtaposition of muted acoustic piano and warped vocal loops on “you came to dis sky” to the piano’s gorgeous union with foggy synth pads on ‘and sooner than we know it…”, but it would be short-sighted to attribute morly’s impressionable aesthetic solely to the warmth and familiarity that permeate her music’s outer shell.

woven into the unquestionable beauty are extended passages of agitation – particularly the discordant synthesizer interjections throughout “seraphase” – that delve into a second, comparatively unexplored dimension of morly’s persona.  there’s a side of her music that swaddles you gently in a blanket next to a wood-burning stove, while the other embodies the flames in the fire, capable of lashing out at unpredictable intervals.

each song on in defense of my muse can be peeled back to its original, minimal piano sketch; it’s easy to imagine these slowly coming to fruition in a state of introspective solitude.  these simple melodic fragments impose no musical limitations, though, and that’s the truly impressive component of morly’s approach to songwriting.  whether they’re grounded in brooding textures, integrated into more euphoric dance explorations, or converted into subterranean harmonic progressions on “drone poem (in defense of my muse)”, the motifs serve as the ultimate reference point, and the piano’s versatility is the perfect analog to an artist that resists genre confinement.

morly’s debut effort is fulfilling.  there’s enough artistic self-awareness throughout in defense of my muse for it to function well as a standalone unit, should morly ever decide to step away from her solo project, but the subtle intricacies of the dissonance she explores almost beg to be developed further.  hopefully this is just the start of something.  in defense of my muse is out friday via cascine; stream it here.

listen to a new song from morly

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

the debut ep from minnesota electronic artist morly is one of our most-anticipated releases of this month.  the sonic parameters of in defense of my muse were immediately established with the swells and textures that pervaded lead single “and sooner than we know it…”, but those extremities are widened even further on her latest offering “drone poem (in defense of my muse).”  the subterranean depths at the beginning of “drone poem” are felt more so than heard, and the steady bass pulse is the only constant for morly’s powerful lead vocal line, which also benefits from swelling choral harmonies and the pattering of electronic drum triggers.  in defense of my muse is out august 14th via cascine; listen to “drone poem (in defense of my muse)” below.

listen to a new song from morly

morly
photo courtesy of the artist

it’s fitting that we would start again gravitating towards music from the midwest as the dimestore gears up for another cross-country move back to the region.  our latest kick is morly, the pseudonym of minnesotan singer-songwriter and gayngs affiliate katy morley.  her output often explores a symbiotic relationship between lush choral passages and minimalist electronic soundscapes; morly’s latest single “and sooner than we know it…” is a perfect example.  the track boasts a bevy of ascending, ethereal vocal lines that benefit immensely from the busy production that gradually increases from the depths of its texture, moving from a hazy autumnal chill to warmer, more majestic pastures.  “and sooner than we know it…” is the centerpiece of morly’s debut ep, in defense of my muse, out august 14th via cascine.  take a listen below.