Published Oct 12, 2010Starting out studying jazz in Boston, Morgan Packard left school to make drum & bass, later changing tack to study classical composition. Now, he brings these disparate influences together in his distinct brand of glitch that resists easy categorisation. Moment Again Elsewhere is Packard's second solo album, and second release on Ezekiel Honig's Anticipate label. It is warmer, dub-ier and less fragmented than his debut. Built upon electronics and live instrumentation, it evokes comparisons to Tim Hecker or Alva Noto's collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto, although the juxtaposition isn't as overt. Crafted with warmth and intricate precision, every detail is perfectly placed. Piano, melodica-like accordion and muted washes of saxophone are intertwined with electronic loops, skips and folds. The result is taut yet retains fragility, every sound given ample breathing space. "Allow" sounds like Apparat remixing the Necks, with its spinning-top percussion and sparse piano, whereas "Insist" leans towards deep house. The jazz influence can be heard most strongly on "Movement," with its smoothed-out sax floating upon moody sub bass. Rhythmically diverse, on some tracks the pattern is delivered in waves, like sound carried by the wind on a still day, others have a more persistent pulse. With its autumnal tones, it's perfect home listening for the fall.
Anticipate is building a healthy roster of experimental musicians and visual artists in the true spirit of collaboration. Is the scene in NYC right now generally receptive to what you're doing?
I've always been something of an outsider, and Anticipate is something of an outsider label. We're not the popular kids at school; we're the ones off in the corner of the cafeteria totally wrapped up in our own thing. We continue to find new people who think our thing is pretty interesting too.
You use a lot of live instruments in your work ― piano, saxophone, accordion. How does your background in jazz and classical composition influence your work?
It's given me an immense appreciation for the things you can do with rhythm, melody and harmony, and a little bit of rudimentary skill of my own in these areas.
Your first album came with a DVD of your collaboration with Joshua Ott. Are there any plans for more collaborations with visual artists, perhaps for the live show?
Josh is the only visuals person I have a working relationship with at the moment. The major collaboration we're doing now is an iPhone/iPad app called Thicket. Thicket was released last April and version two will be out some time this fall. It's a sort of interactive single, a little slice of my musical thoughts and Josh's visual wizardry packaged up and presented as a unified whole. Josh and I plan to design a nice big performance sometime in the future. But at the moment, we're having too much fun creating worlds inside these little devices and so are focusing on that.
You've been approaching your musical performances as a spontaneous affair, not trying to faithfully recreate the recorded tracks but reacting on the spot to the vibe of the room. Does this lead you to explore new ideas that you might not necessarily have pursued?
It's very important for me to have a feeling of freshness and spontaneity in my performances. The ideas I'm interested in exploring now are those that will expand my ability to do what you talked about: react on the spot to the vibe in the room; perform stuff that feels really fresh, supple, dynamic. I'm starting to think about what my next album will look like and I think I'd like to approach it by designing the performance, and the performance process, first and let the album simply be the definitive documentation of that. I don't care all that much about seeking sonic perfection. I'm more interested in getting somewhere really fresh and exciting and finding ways to really move people. Performance feels like the best way to get there right now.
You created this album using your own software, Ripple. What pushed you to create it? Was it out of frustration with what's commercially available?
No, I think there's tons of wonderful commercially available software. It's just not mine; it contains too many of the ideas of its creators. I want to have very strict control over the ideas, methods, workflows that shape my art. Ripple is an embodiment in code of my artistic conceptions and process. (Anticipate)