Friday, March 21, 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: MORGAN PAGE'S "ELEVATE"

"If you prefer it all to me, then, my love, you go down the longest road to nowhere..."

DJ/Producer Morgan Page is making quite a name for himself. After releasing an unofficial group of remixes for free download called Cease and Desist (after the expected legal action), he instead received a boost in buzz and notice that has really helped his career. I myself downloaded Cease and enjoyed it, shocking considering my usual ennui toward remixes.

Now he's come up with Elevate, a mix of original material and remixes that is quite a listen. I've gotten a copy of the album before its release next week on March 25, 2008, and its pretty impressive. I don't know all of the originals of Page's remixes, but hopefully that will remove any bias for from those track reviews due to my knowing the original artists. Taking it on a track-by-track basis:

(Note: Try not to judge these songs by their first listen. I didn't like many of them after the first time, and it was only on the second listen they really clicked with me.)

Morgan Page feat. Lissie - The Longest Road
Page has called Lissie "one of the most exciting voices [he's] heard in years" and after hearing her contribution to this album, I have to say he's spot on. She does great work with this song, which infuses Lissie's native folk and Page's love of electronic music. Page happily doesn't interfere too much with Lissie's work, backing her up perfectly with a beautiful and yet danceable beat. The song, while not too conventional in its storytelling, is also quite interesting. Quite probably the best track of the album.

Morgan Page feat. Tyler James - Call My Name
Not a bad song by a long shot, but unlike "Road", here the song does grate a little. Guest singer Tyler James ranges from pretty good to unbearably annoying depending on what mood I'm in. Page's producing work here is just as good as ever, though, which works in the track's favour.

The Submarines - Peace and Hate (Morgan Page Remix)
I'm not familiar with The Submarines, but this remix is a good selection for the album. You can clearly hear Page's contributions, and it gets your feet going. There's a great feel of darkness here, which I believe was Page's intent with the song, and it works well. Page really compliments the voices of the singers, and in general has made a damn good remix here. There are some really beautiful portions as well.

Morgan Page feat. Matt Wasley - Fade Away
Wasley is a better guest singer than Tyler James on track 2, and he does a good job. I'd say this is the first time Page himself gets a bit carried away; I noted he never stepped on Lissie's toes, enhancing but not obscuring her, while here Wasley's voice is sometimes overtaken by the music. That's a shame because both the singing and the music are excellent, and in places it's much more successful than in others.

Jenny Owen Youngs - Fuck Was I (Morgan Page Remix)
After alternating between original and remixes up until this point, this track kicks off a section of purely remixes. This is a great track to do it with, as it showcases Page's especial skills in remixing. He takes a pretty folky, strings based rolling song and turns it into a great, low key electronica song that works just as well as the original. I'm familiar with the remix from Youngs' Take Off All Your Clothes EP. I liked it then and I still like it now.

Leigh Nash - Nervous in the Light of Dawn (Morgan Page Remix)
The beginning of this track is Page's second misstep, as the static accompanying the early beats of this song do the track no favours. His remixing of her voice in those parts is quite good, and once you get over the static the song is quite nice. There's an echoing quality that I always love in here, as it really enhances the singer's emotional effect. The annoying static recurs throughout the song, unfortunately, despite the rest of the remix being quite nice. I'm guessing, as you listen to it, the static eventually blends into the rest of the song.

Bitter:Sweet - Dirty Laundry (Morgan Page Remix)
A good remix, although again the vocals are a bit too obscured for a proper listen. That said, the remix is nice, but the volume of it also decreases its effectiveness, despite it sounding quite good. That said, there's a large section near the end that mostly works, as you know you don't need to hear the lyrics, but before that the song itself is compromised a little too much.

Nelly Furtado - Maneater (David Garcia & Morgan Page Remix)
I will be straight up here: I do not like club remixes. That's probably why I cannot stand much that the remix world has to offer, and one of the reasons why I don't find myself drawn to this particular song. Not only does this fact hurt the song for me, but I was long ago ruined for this song when a reviewer noted that producer Timbaland was responsible for the sexiness of the song and not Furtado herself, and I thought "... wait a second, he's right!". Ever since, both the song and specifically Furtado's performance in it have seemed lifeless to me. That all said, even this remix isn't hopeless, as I do like some of the things Garcia and Page do with it; I just care little for the remix material.

Delirium - Angelicus (Morgan Page Remix)
I'm not overly familiar with Delirium's work, but this mostly instrumental track (including opera-style vocals used purely as an instrument) is an interesting departure from Page's other choices. This does mix quite well with Page's remixing work, though it's not so much in my personal taste.

Morgan Page feat. Camila Grey - One Day
Page has a good ear for vocalists, particularly female ones. Just as Lissie was perfect for "The Longest Road", Camila Grey has a beautiful voice that works well with the music infused with bleeps and quiet static. He again showcases rather than obscures, and that allows the song to breathe properly.

Dengue Fever - Sleep Walking Through the Mekong (Morgan Page Remix)
Page takes a shot at a band who, despite hailing from Los Angeles, have decided to mix Cambodian stylings and language (Khmer, to be more precise) this time around, which combined with Delerium gives this album a nice range. Between the heavy, pounding beats and the light, glittery ones, the opening is a nice study in contrasting sounds working well together. The lyrics are in another language but their beauty is just as real as if they were in English. There's something very tribal about Page's take on the song, and it's a refreshing listen. The last few moments are especially nice and echoing.

Under - Under (Morgan Page Remix)
The closing track is a really nice, low key and echo-filled song with a wonderful female vocalist in the lead, and I have to admit I've become quite fond of it. There's something both sleepy and sexy about this song, and that intrigues. You can hear Morgans influence, and it works very much to the song's favour. A wonderful closer.

VERDICT

Definitely worth a listen. I can't say I would have bought it before having heard it, despite knowing a few of Morgan Page's unofficial remixes, but it has impressed me much more than I expected it to. I'd recommend it to anyone a fan of electronic music especially, but some (like the Jenny Owen Youngs remix) will appeal to others as well, like those who enjoy great female vocals. Give it a shot with the sample downloads below.

SAMPLE TRACKS

Morgan Page feat. Lissie - The Longest Road (Sendspace link)
Under - Under (Morgan Page Remix) (Sendspace link)

PRE-ORDER/BUY MORGAN PAGE'S "ELEVATE"

Morgan Page's Official Site - Amazon - Amazon Canada

10 comments:

Kara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kara said...

Holy smokes that was a long ass review, you astound me boy. However, this dude doesn't. NEXT!

Anonymous said...

I've been a fan of Morgan's for years, and I respect the honesty of your review. Having heard some of the remixes online, I can't wait to hear the rest of the original tracks. Seems like this may be a movement towards more original material from Morgan. Here here!

bobbins34 said...

Morgan Page rocks. Came across him via Tegan and Sara's - Back in your head remix and found so many great mixes. Love Longest road - in fact the most played song on my iPod. Have you listened to Imogen Heap's remix. Still dying to get my hands on the album.

The Alden said...

I have indeed, and I like his take on Hide and Seek. :) He's impressed me, definitely.

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