Morgan Geist – Double Night Time

It’s been over a decade since Morgan Geist’s last album, The Driving Memoirs, and on paper that looks like an artist who is artistically frustrated or just plain lazy. But I would hardly say that either verdict is applicable in his case. Geist’s dayplanner for all those years has been jammed with the day-to-day responsibilities implicit with running his small independent label, Environ, while also playing a major role in updating disco for the new millenium as one half of duo Metro Area. In addition he’s spent time doing various remixes, production work for Kelley Polar as well as recording sporadically under the Jersey Devil Social Club . When you read between the lines you notice that there’s one final option that clarifies this gap: perfectionism.  And once you realize that vocals (from Junior Boys singer Jeremy Greenspan) feature prominently on Double Night Time (a first for Geist) it starts to make sense. Compared to his first album and his early releases on Environ and Metamorphic the stylistic shift is drastic as song structure and lyric writing are a world away from the free-form techno-funk workouts he originally favored.  But production-wise the progression is readily apparent as Geist has slowed down the bpms and introduced live instrumentation into his work and that of Metro Area over the last few years. Opener “Detroit” sees Geist triangulating his inspiration from Motown techno with the strings of his disco fancy and a signature quirky melodic funk programming. Greenspan’s lilting tenor fits remarkably well amid the shimmering boogie of “The Shore.” But on “Ruthless City” when he sings “you took me down/knocked me out/so fast it wasn’t funny/In the first round I found out/how you operate” the metaphors for rejection come off as cliches that distract from the funky melancholic production. “City of Smoke and Flame” runs a similar route, taking a slower and darker path with more domestic lyrical reference points but with a memorable chorus that projects images of fading cars and relationships. Lyrical miscues aside, Geist succeeds in creating a fundamentally strong pop structure for his songs while managing to keep them interesting in terms of production. The album ends on “Lullaby,” a song that was featured on a previous 12″, but injects a new-found melody two-thirds in that further enhances the already beautiful balance of honeyed keyboard, Kraftwerk boosted beats, and filigree trumpet from James Duncan. A fitting end to a brave piece of work that is Double Night Time.

About Kuri

I am a dj and music journalist trying to spread the word on quality past and future techno/house/electronic music.
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