REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
If you were to sum up Moritat in a 30-second soundbyte, they might seem like any other ordinary indie pop band with a not-so-hidden desire for retro. And while sweet pop music inspired by the sounds of the ’60s and ’70s might commonly be associated with acts of such ilk, Moritat certainly belie this stereotype. Their debut Clill Blanzin shows the range of this trio, which goes far beyond the boilerplate three-minute pop music created with the aid of dirty guitars, analogue synthesizers, and a nerdy demeanor. This is an ambitious record that is challenging with songs that are complex. And the proficiency with which the band executes their circuitous vision goes to show how immense the talent is behind this bunch of seemingly ordinary musicians.
For just a trio, the range of this total novitiate is impressive, to say the least. Moritat not only embraces the spirit of retro-inspired pop music, they actually play their music like a prog rock band from the years past. This is best exemplified by the seven and a half minute long “Automatic Lover,” which starts off like a late ’70s post-punk song with just the drums, bass guitar, and minimal synthesizer sound of the era. But almost halfway into it, the synthesizer morphs into a rather spacey manifestation, and becomes an almost hallucinogenic track from the prog rock’s salad days. The song then throws another punch, completely changing the tempo in the last three minutes, which consists of what could be described one long synth solo. It seems fit for a soundtrack to a cheesy ‘70s science fiction flick.
The band takes a less eccentric approach on tracks like “Cats” and “Noise,” which in their combination of upbeatness, geniality, and slight weirdness finds its kinship with the likes of Stereolab. On the six minute “I Forgot To Kiss Her,” the trio goes in the opposite direction as the lofty “Automatic Lover,” with its utter simplicity and hushed softness as it channels the modesty of its indie roots. In contrast, “Snowpusher” is so laden with big synths that it sounds like a bastard child – a very interesting one – spawn from the union between an experimental classic rock band and a new wave act.
Moritat’s lineup of keyboard, drums, and bass hardly uses any guitars or other instruments. But the depth and breadth of sounds on Clill Blanzin is pretty amazing and makes it anything but a one-dimensional synth-based record. In fact, it is an extremely organic album, considering the dominance of the synthesizers. This disc is unpredictable, but never shocking. There are brilliant albums, and then there is a brilliant album like Clill Blanzin, which is absolutely unique from everything else that is around it: an album like this one definitely doesn’t happen too often.