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Morris Cowan

Six Degrees

(Wigflex; US: 15 Apr 2013)

Morris Cowan is a unique artist, which in today’s saturated music market is becoming more and more rare. There are many reasons why this may be the case.


Firstly, and possibly most pertinently, is the fact that it is so easy to get into electronic music production nowadays – the barriers to entry are now extremely low. In times past, musicians had to put their hands into their pockets and actually fork out real money to get started in the game, meaning that only the most dedicated and passionate people entered the aural arts. Nowadays, endless reams of professional DAWs and top quality VSTi’s are now available for free at the click of a button from the plethora of illegal torrents circulating the web. This has, in turn, led to a downturn in the general quality and innovation within electronic music spheres, with new artists not even bothering to learn their equipment/software, and worryingly, just reaching for the most hyped synth with the best presets in order to present their art to the world.


Secondly, the fact that many new producers are just not interested in creating anything new or exciting is also a major issue – the herd mentality and the unwillingness to stray from the middle-ground is fast becoming a major problem for the music industry – with hundreds of sound-alikes being uploaded to Soundcloud, and their contemporaries every minute of every day, the job of finding any new music that is at least half decent is now extremely difficult and often a real chore that is undertaken by only the most dedicated of music professionals.


Thirdly, the fact that music publications all too often seem to pander to trend over artistic excellence and originality also seems to be a major defining factor in this argument. This could be due to the drive to increase advertising money – the only real source of income an online publication can hope to get – but also due to the fact that the people, who all too often make the music that clogs the arteries of the music industry are also the most connected and the ones most willing to spend big money hiring powerful PR companies who only have to threaten to cut a journalist from their promo lists to get coverage and reviews.


Morris Cowan (real name Adam Taylor), whose new LP Six Degrees, out on one of Nottingham’s most respected labels, Wigflex, is an artist who defies such bland expectations, in the process creating some of the most thought provoking, exciting and most importantly, vitally fresh music of the last few years.


A Wigflex collaborator since its inception in 2006, Taylor has featured or starred on half of the nascent labels now eight physical releases, adding depth and sophistication to proceedings on each offering.


His debut album, Circa on German label Zaubernuss was a feisty exploration of pacey, vivid tech house and minimal techno. With Six Degrees, Taylor builds on his past works, diving headfirst into a world of densely layered, melodic electronics. Based loosely around the psychological concept of ‘six degrees of separation’, the six tracks dip and dive, start and stop, and push and pull the listener in different directions, whilst at the same time remaining completely relevant to the rest of the albums’ material.

With hints of rubbery acid, gloopy analogue leads and pads and displaying an extremely keen and natural ear for harmony, the album deftly juggles and juxtaposes organic tones with the synthetic. The album is so coherent however, that it is almost impossible to pick out any one track for analysis as they all meld and feed into a single, fully formed stream of consciousness. It can however be said that the LP takes as much influence from Canada’s Constellation Records (home of Godspeed you! Black Emperor) as it does from Warp in its heyday, with Taylor himself describing it as “psych-prog rock made on computers.”


All things said, the album is an enthralling, well executed listen from start to finish. It also marks an interesting new development for Wigflex itself. It is their first foray into the world of long form music, and a work that, although baring some semblance to their previous offerings, is a markedly different beast, displaying very little of their trademark “rude boy techno” memes. Instead, the label and Taylor himself bowl a googly to deliver a distinctive album that delves deeper into the mind than they have before.

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