"It's too dark to see the landmarks
And I don't want your good luck charms,
I hope you're waitin for me
Across your carpet of stars.
You're the night, Lilah,
You're everything that we can't see.
You're the possibility."
One is inclined to say the same of the late, great Mr. Sandman himself.
From the opening notes- sliding bass, subtle sax and spare (yet funky) drums, this CD grabs your hand, slips into your head, and takes hold of your soul. The opening title track- the first time I heard it- it's one of my favorite songs by any group. Damn I wish I knew what it is that he mutters at the end when the song fades out. In fact, I used to only listen to that one song, didn't think so much of the rest of the CD.
You might say it grew on me- or perhaps in me. The lyrics to 'Night,'are the most elegant that Sandman ever penned, in my opinion.
The saxophone- I use the verb 'floors' often in reviews, but that's because I tend to only review things that floor me. As in make me scrape my jaw off the floor like a Tim Burton hero and just stand in wonder. The sax floors me on this one.
The songs are superb. Lyrically- well, let's just say that The Night stands out. The rest are decent enough, the lyrics work well in each song's context, even the simplistic 'Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer,' doesn't grate. Sandman's voice is in fine form, working well in all it's sultry, monochromatic luxuriousness.
'A Good Woman is Hard to Find,' calls to mind the scene in Lynch's 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,' in the odd bar/club (I remember it being a red scene) with naked and half-naked females gyrating around to a slow, psychedelic, rockabilly song. But played faster and with a bluesy guitar that really fits in. 'Rope on Fire,' is a middle eastern-esque number: it's highly evocative, and the saxophone fits snugly into the harmonic minor arrangement. 'Like A mirror,' just seems to drip and boom away, droning fantastically while Sandman murmurs- "I'm nothing... til you look at me." 'Souvenir,' builds and builds to a crescendo of hard sax/bass ecstasy. 'The Way We Met,' is the only song that doesn't do anything for me. Not a bad song mind you- it fits the mood and I suppose adds to the whole, just doesn't strike me as an important song.
Technically- this is easily the mostly fully realized, densely structured album that Morphine have released. Far better than 'Cure for Pain,' a great album, one of their best... It doesn't hold a candle to 'The Night,' though I guess the question is- which do you like more: the stark trio or this one with strings, oud, violins, guitars, keys, bongos, a variety of middle eastern instruments. On 'The Night,' Morphine let go of their standard spare, trio format and the results are mind-blowing. I love it. It makes me want to get into my car at night and drive. All night. Just drive aimlessly and let the music wash over me. How someone can sing so monotone and evoke such passion... Sandman and Co. show that a well-crafted understatement can drop you much faster than some pierced and tattooed ingrate yelling about how insecure he is and how the walls are closing in. Don't get down with the sickness. Get down with The Night." Amazon
2.So Many Ways
4.Top Floor, Bottom Buzzer
5.Like A Mirror
6.A Good Woman Is Hard To Find
7.Rope On Fire
8.I'm Yours, You're Mine
9. The Way We Met
11.Take Me With You
Morhpine: Mark Sandman (vocals, acoustic guitar, 2-string slide & electric basses, trombone, piano, organ, tri-tar); Dana Colley (tenor, baritone, bass & double saxophones, piano, background vocals); Billy Conway (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Joseph Kessler (viola); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); Brahim Fribgane (oud, frame drum); John Medeski (organ); Mike Rivard (upright bass); Billy Beard (hand drum); Margaret Garrett, Tara McManus, Linda Viens, Caroln Kaylor, Ramona Clifton (background vocals).