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Mia Doi Todd (with Andres Renteria)

Morning Music

(City Zen; US: 14 Apr 2009; UK: 13 Apr 2009)

Mia Doi Todd is known for her quiet, haunting songs, and the most haunting part of these is her voice. On Morning Music, she leaves that element behind as she creates an instrumental ambient experience unlike the rest of her catalog. Morning Music is a lovely and aptly named collection of music to help even the weariest bodies to awaken quietly. Todd’s voice is not as missed as one would think; the music is sheerly hypnotic on its own.

The album’s seven tracks open with “Harmonium”, an unsurprisingly organ-centered affair. The organ carries over into “Arise”, though the piano takes center stage in this song. “Samai’I”, brings the album into full bloom with a more percussive song that also features a reed flute. “Electrafficbirds One” is a slow piano song that could hold its own alongside a solo piano piece by Philip Glass or any other minimalist master. The same is true of “Simple Things,” which brings back the harmonium and features a deliciously watery piano line, blurred ever so slightly for the most relaxing sound. The quiet flute and harp that open “Emotion” are the album’s most New Age-moment, but this song is still pretty and the slightly schmaltzy sound can be forgiven in context of the other tracks which are more original. Finally, the album closes with “Electrafficbirds Two”, still piano-centered but also featuring a reed flute and bird sounds more prominent than elsewhere on the album.

Morning Music is a gorgeous, softly stirring work of art that maximizes its minimal elements. Andres Renteria, the multi-instrumentalist who executes much of this album, deserves special credit for adding a perfectly light touch to the work. It would be right at home among prepared piano auteur Hauschka’s best work, though it’s even more charming to know Mia Doi Todd spearheaded its creation.


Erin Lyndal Martin is a poet, fiction writer, music journalist, and music promotional writer. She runs and can be reached on Twitter @erinlyndal.

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