Moritat – High Plus Tight

http://popstache.com/album-review/moritat-high-plus-tight/

written by: Ben Bassett December 6, 2014

Release Date: January 20, 2015

Ever heard the expression “swept under the rug”? Usually it refers to things to be forgotten—or that we want to forget. Confrontations and regrets, these are the things reserved for making neighbors with the hairballs and dust-bunnies. But Chicago-based band Moritat lifted up the rug to discover something that was never meant to be swept away: a time capsule of themselves, an early EP they thought was lost.

While moving out from an old apartment, the band found a CD long lost under the living room carpet. Written in neon marker were the words “HIGH PLUS TIGHT.” When they played the CD, they rediscovered songs that were once thought lost, then deftly transformed those early tracks into a lofty collection of edgy, avant garde indie pop in the new EP High Plus Tight.

A handful of years ago, roommates Venus Laurel, Konstantin Jace, and Corey McCaffertey formed Moritat, storing some early recordings on an ancient relic known as a “CD.” Shortly after the songs were recorded, their apartment was robbed. Everything, including their gear, laptops, instruments, and personal belongings, were cleared out by the marauders of musical exposition.

It was a sad chapter for Moritat, but the band was not deterred from its dream of creating together. Moritat moved on from the burglar episode and released its freshman effort Chill Blazin (produced by Brian Deck of Modest Mouse and Iron & Wine fame)  to critical acclaim. After the rediscovery of its early recordings in 2013, Moritat went to work refining the ideas from that once-lost CD.

Those ideas, literally pulled from under the rug, are eloquently and uniquely crafted on High Plus Tight.

The sparkling EP hosts sweeping guitars drenched in thick reverb and hauntingly pained vocals that even Justin Vernon would applaud. Sonically, it recalls something between Kylie K and Kimbra—though not as driving and rock-centric as the former, and certainly not as poppy as the latter—but Moritat manages to carefully construct a niche for its sound, what the band dubs “avant pop.”

The first single, “Visits,” is an excellent introduction to the EP and to Moritat itself. Reminiscent of a Bon Iver song with a pop beat, “Visits” finds a groove composed of synth dance beats and a mystical, thought-provoking lyrical melody. The lyrics call out, “Part of me, part of you, parts of you, out of touch out of tune, mysteriously someone said/The moon, visits the house of Jupiter.” The lyrics, like the music, find a great balance between  pop pandering and the unapproachable seriousness of indie.

Moritat mixes its own brand of creative minimalism, with just enough danceable pop, landing on a musical plane where haunting and happy co-exist.

“Glass Door” is another of the EP’s most solid tracks. Easily the edgiest of the collection, “Glass Door” features an almost uneasy and angry crunched guitar tone, adding to the intensity of a song that almost has to be about trust issues. “I’m in my mind, I’m running out of my head/I’m in my mind, I see you two making the heartache,” sings Laurel, only adding to the building tension of the song. Together, “Glass Door” and “Visits” are a good indication of what Moritat is capable of on this EP.

High Plus Tight is a solid follow-up (and simultaneous throwback) effort from Moritat, with an excellent backstory that only adds to the great mythology of this record. The EP is an enticing entry point to introduce listeners to a promising Chicago band. Some things may be best left under the rug, but High Plus Tight is not one of them.

Moritat – High Plus Tight tracklist:

  1. “Visits”
  2. “Starry B”
  3. “We’d”
  4. “Lond”
  5. “Glass Door”
  6. “The Lips, They Move”

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