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CD: Morris Cowan - Six Degrees | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Morris Cowan - Six Degrees

CD: Morris Cowan - Six Degrees

Can the Mancunian producer transcend his own intelligence?

Six Degrees

Some 20 years ago, a series of albums called Artificial Intelligence on WARP Records aimed to promote techno as home-listening music. They made up a frequently sublime collection, but unfortunately the word “intelligence” in their title was picked up by a movement through the 1990s that became known, horrendously, as “intelligent dance music” (IDM) and tended to the belief that intricacy and awkwardness made music somehow superior to that made with more sensuous or hedonistic aims in mind.

Thankfully, in the wake of dubstep in the 2000s, the experimental and the danceable began to overlap rather more once again, and we increasingly seem to be seeing records like this which come over like an update of the Artificial Intelligence titles. These six lengthy tracks by a Mancunian producer on the reliable Nottingham Wigflex label are – let's make no bones about it – beautiful. From the opening ambient ballet dream “Forum”, everything here is baroque, bubbling over with detail, but never in a way that makes it seem fiddly or pernickety for the sake of it.

Even on the 18-plus minutes of cascading breakbeats, synthetic harps and thickly layered chords of the voluptuous two-parter “At Sixes...” / “...and Sevens” one never gets the sense Cowan is showing off. Rather it feels like he wants to share a feeling, like he's overflowing with delight at the ecstatic possibilities of all these sounds at his disposal. Elsewhere things may be stripped down more, but then, as on shuffling album closer “Kirly's Dreamband”, there's still a warm funk to it all, a feeling of barely controlled delight. This music is intelligent, but that's not why it's so great.

Listen to "Forum"

Everything here is baroque, bubbling over with detail, but never in a way that makes it seem fiddly for the sake of it.

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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