ARTIST: Lorin Morgan-Richards
Reissued last year, this concept album was originally recorded in 1999 and formed the audio portion of a mixed-media dance performance by the Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre. Inspired by the writings of UFO theorist Zechariah Sitchin and combining elements of science fiction with Sumerian mythology, Enki is an ambitious work, and unfortunately Morgan-Richards' abilities as a composer and singer don't quite measure up to the task. Things start promisingly enough with the Oriental-themed synthesizers of intro track "The Fortune Cookie Breaks," but "Lying Naked" and "Have We Given Our Way" combine amateurish vocals, simplistic production techniques (Morgan-Richards seems overly fond of echoing) and preset synth patches. While the spaced out analog arpeggios of "The Eagle Has Landed" and instrumental "Building a Savior" add a nicely retro progressive feel, reminiscent of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream, that works well with this album's science fiction psychedelia, the reliance on easily recognizable keyboard sounds like computerized choirs and synthesized bass all too often makes songs that should be tripped out seem simply prosaic. It's not all bad, though; panning otherworldly synthesizers combine with a young girl's description of a hogan, or traditional Navajo dwelling, for an effect that's both earthy and unreal on "Little Words," and "Recreate" is solid synthpop, with digitized horns and sampled guitars filling out the sound of Morgan-Richards' catchy but wistful vocals. The problem here isn't so much that this album is a bad idea, it's simply that Morgan-Richards didn't have the musical experience to make this conceptual work as epic as it could be. Put that aside, and you can appreciate some interesting analog synth experimentation and a couple of solid pop tunes.
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