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Ron Morelli, "Spit"

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This is kind of an excitedly anticipated album in some circles, as it is the first solo release from the man behind the influential L.I.E.S. imprint.  Morelli's resume is deceptive, however, as Spit is a very backwards-looking, primitive affair rather than a dispatch from the cutting edge or a bold statement of intent.  That said, it is still quite a likable one–it just sounds more like a home-recorded industrial experiment from early '80s Sheffield or Manchester than anything resembling underground dance music circa 2013.

Hospital Productions

Morelli himself has been quite open about Spit's humble origins, describing it as "stress music jammed out quick and recorded," which is exactly what it sounds like in some ways: it is very grimy, simple, and direct.  In other ways, however, it is a lot better than that sounds, as almost all of these bashed-out variations are built upon very good ideas and there are occasional flashes of playfulness and humor to be found as well.  Also, some pieces are legitimately bludgeoning and heavy, such as the unrelenting machine-like crunch of "Sledgehammer II." If Spit has a shortcoming, it is only that Morelli never allows any of these pieces to expand or evolve beyond their initial motif.

The "Sledgehammer II" vein turns out to be one of the most fruitful threads on the album, as Morelli successfully returns to heavy mechanized rhythms two more times with "No Real Reason" and "Crack Microbes" (which sounds like a darker, blown-out twist on Nurse With Wound's "Steel Dream March of the Metal Men").  Aside from those, the other highlights come right at the beginning of the album, with the brooding, throbbing, and plunging "Radar Variations" and the absurd polka-beat-preset-on-an-old-Casio groove of "Modern Paranoia."  I especially loved the wobbling, sickly, out-of-control synth anti-hook in the latter.

The remainder of Spit is a bit of an unpredictable and perverse mixed bag.  "Slow Drown," for example, is a bit of grinding metallic ambiance, while "Fake Rush" is one of Morelli's ostensible "House variations," though it amusingly undermines its groove with a queasily disorienting and obsessively repeated non-hook.  The most aberrant piece of all, however, is the brief "Director Of...," which combines a jarringly pitch-shifted and willfully annoying synth "hook" with echo-heavy, distorted voices.  I probably would not describe either "Fake Rush" or "Director" as "good," but they are at least interesting and unusual.

I am very curious to see how this album goes over, as I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I tend to enjoy both early '80s industrial and deliberate obnoxiousness much more than most people.  Also, the small pleasures of Spit might be curdled for some people by their expectations, which is a shame, as this album would probably be universally hailed as a minor masterpiece if it were an obscure reissue by Minimal Wave rather Ron Morelli's debut album.  Obviously, I would love to hear what Ron could do if he put some serious time and effort into his work, but that might be a way off, as Hospital already has two sequels in the pipeline.  For now, however, Spit's ramshackle, tossed-off spontaneity is quite endearing in its own right.




Last Updated on Monday, 11 November 2013 01:22  


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