Music journalist, DJ and composer Morris Gould aka Mixmaster Morris was one of the major players in new-school ambient electronica and its emergence from the dance world in the late 80's and early 90's. A passionate, kooky campaigner for the ambient cause, he told David Toop in the book Ocean Of Sound: "We've had sixty, seventy years of making records. That's stage one. Now we sample them".
country of origin:
Ambient techno/trance/dub, lounge, trip hop, nu lounge
90's - 10's
- Flying High (1993, Rising High)
- Global Chillage (1994, Rising High)
- It's Tomorrow Already (1998, Ninja Tune)
- Kira Kira (2017, Liquid Sound Design)
Reviewed by Mike G
Music writer, DJ and composer Morris Gould aka Mixmaster Morris was one of the major players in new-school ambient electronica and its emergence from the dance world in the late 80's and early 90's. A passionate, kooky campaigner for the ambient cause ("it's time to lie down and be counted"), he first picked up a following via stints as a chillout DJ in the early days of the U.K. ambient house scene. His live shows combined looped sounds and samples from vinyl records with live electronic instruments with which he created layered, free-form mixes of sound and mood. As Morris told David Toop in the book Ocean Of Sound: "We've had sixty, seventy years of making records. That's stage one. Now we sample them".
It was a logical progression to take these techniques into a recording studio, which he did under the name Irresistible Force. Released on the iconic UK dance label Rising High Records, the debut album Flying High (1993) is classic post-rave ambient that’s by turns playful, transportive and awe-inspiring. Elements of Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd and Jean-Michel Jarre are in evidence but deployed sparingly, leaving plenty of room for original, inventive hi-tech mindscapes. A sequenced kick drum appears on occasion to anchor things down but only rarely do the beats rise above the echoing ripples of melody and richly detailed atmospherics. Track titles like "Sky High", "Downstream" and "Moonrise" are a good indicator of what the album sounds like, though the plainly titled "Symphony In E" provides the album’s most striking moment. Seemingly out of nowhere emerges a simple, hypnotic violin phrase, which Morris then pairs with a wobbly bass line and drum break to very pleasing effect.
The second Irresistible Force release Global Chillage (1994) dials up the trippy atmospherics of Flying High a notch or two. It also contains some fine excursions into luscious dub, with "Waveform" being a textbook example of how that bass-driven genre was reinvented for the rave generation.
His third album It's Tomorrow Already (1998) is almost completely different from its predecessors, released some time after Rising High Records' popular chillout wave was on the wane. Morris found a new home with experimental breakbeat/hip hop label Ninja Tune and delivered a spellbinding release. Whereas previously his sound was more based on ambient techno and trance, It's Tomorrow Already mines the equally fertile and far-out fringes of trip hop. Highlights include the lazy space funk workouts "12 O'clock" and "Nepalese Bliss"; also a must-hear is a separately released remix of "Nepalese Bliss" by DJ Food which captures the sweet stoner vibe of Ninja Tune's chillout material to utter perfection.
During the 90's Morris also recorded the two quirky Dreamfish albums with German ambient maestro Pete Namlook and curated the first volume of Rising High's pioneering Chill Out Or Die compilation series: all are well worth hearing.
In the decades following It's Tomorrow Already he took a long rest as a composer but remained very active as a DJ - always his first love - as well as a music journalist and an occasional remixer of tracks for other artists. Then in 2017 came Kira Kira, his first album in 20 years and a multi-coloured psychedelic delight. Morris delivers nine original pieces of exotic, quirky, tuneful downtempo sprinkled generously with the sampled voice elements and jazzy, surreal looseness he loves so much. It's superb, with production by the esteemed dub producer Youth bringing it all vividly to life.