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Lorin Morgan-Richards - An Occurrence Remembered [return to reviews]
Review by Christopher Roddy

Lorin Morgan-Richards is certainly an intriguing individual. His interests in cultural anthropology and classic literature coupled with his admiration for music as it relates to staged movement have made for some interesting forays in mixed-media art. Having shared stages with The Creatures, Front 242, Pyschotica and Lycia, Morgan's first solo album, 2000's ENKI, took on Zecharia Sitchin's book, The Twelfth Planet, which involves the origins of humanity through Alien intervention in ancient Sumeria. He expressed its complex ideas through electronic soundscapes slightly reminiscent of early Dead Can Dance that still retained a unique and singular personality. Dark-Electro Storytelling is what he likes to call it, and ENKI revealed Richards to be an evolving, creative force.

An Occurrence Remembered is a curious work originally written in 2001. Its source material is that of much lauded, late nineteenth-early twentieth century writer Ambrose Bierce. Kurt Vonnegut, in his book A Man Without A Country, remarked that anyone who hadn't read Bierce's An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge was a "twerp," unfamiliar with one of the greatest works of literature in American history. An inspiration to some of modern society's most memorable filmed works, from a classic Twilight Zone episode to the movies of M. Night Shyamalan, Occurrence has, for generations, compelled men to create and Lorin Morgan-Richards has not only put together an impressive album around it (coupling Occurrence with another Bierce story, Chickamauga), but has also performed it in conjunction with interpretive dance theater in New York City aided by choreographer Nicole Cavaliere and co-producer Valerie Stoneking, just as he had with ENKI, which was choreographed by Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre Group founder Michael Medcalf.

While the storytelling aspect of Richards' works is borrowed from others the music is wholly original, and by taking it a step further and adding the dance element he has elevated electronic music to something that goes beyond barroom risers and clubland floors. There is a new level of artistry being achieved through his exhaustive efforts.

The rhythms are always fascinating and tethered to a plentiful supply of synth atmospherics. "You Hold My Heart" expresses the kind of mood which one often finds in the most warming tracks of Aphex Twin's discography with its slighty off-kilter, distorted beat and soothing waves of ambient sound. Then everything goes dark as the unsettling sound of an unfolding nightmare oozes from the speakers, leading into the hypnotic strains of "Hanging By A Thread." Strings work in tandem with a marshal snare. The mood grows rather heavy and foreboding as the story kicks into high gear.

Even though some of these passages, such as "Was It Time For Me To Go?" or "Was It Something I Said?" might actually be accessible to a standard club audience looking for sounds akin to Clan Of Xymox, the music certainly lends itself more to the theatrical and the choreographed staging of these works have proven to be powerful and moving displays. As you listen to the album you, too, may be inspired to sway along with the entrancing rhythmic pulse.

The only thing that occasionally works against the overall effect is Richards' voice. At times its understated nature can actually add to the ambiance of a particular track, as in the haunting "Lifeless Crawling Shells," but there are a number of instances where Richards doesn't immediately nail the note he's going for, or a monotonous harmony comes across as too one-dimensional in contrast to the enlivening layers within the song structure, undermining the power of the respective track. "Abbey," a percussive, upbeat number is ultimately diminished by a curiously lackadaisical vocal performance.

From Gothic Rock, to Dark Electro to Ambient, a number of styles are incorporated here and An Occurrence Remembered, only now receiving a proper release over six years after its initial staging, certainly warrants interest (Invisible Records did include two of these songs on its 2001 Notes From The Real Underground, Vol. 1 compilation). I would highly recommend this little-known treasure to anyone that can appreciate the depth and artistry that goes into something of such scope. Copies can be obtained through www.lorinrichards.com. Hopefully we'll be hearing much more from this visionary in the future.

1. You Hold My Heart
2. Peyton's Dream
3. Hanging By A Thread
4. The Escape
5. Was It Something I Said?
6. Abbey
7. Warmth
8. Was It Time For Me To Go?
9. Will You Follow Me, My Dear?
10. The Battle
11. Lifeless Crawling Shells
12. Does It Change Your Mind?
13. Home