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The Obscure Music Club

Morphine – Noir In A Smoky Town

  • Category: Sound
  • By: Alo

This sound is fucking good! I must have been thinking that by listening to the opening track of Morphine’s debut album. That song is the title track and the album could have no other name than… “Good”; almost a stamp of approval placed by the band on their first, great job. Morphine was a cult band of the underground Boston scene in the 90s, their sound was incredibly obscure and rarefied, it outlines noir atmospheres in urban environments that make you feel like sitting at a bar with dimmed lights in front of a glass of whiskey.

This band has succeeded in the task of playing rock without its main and iconic instrument, the guitar, giving life to simple and linear compositions, with minimal arrangements between retro and avant-garde that metabolize decades of music.

In fact this is not simply rock, but an extraordinary blend also made of blues, jazz and new wave.

The undisputed leader was Mark Sandman, baritone voice and bass with only two strings, the other two members were Dana Colley (a genius of baritone saxophone) and the drummer Jerome Deupree (replaced later by Billy Conway).

Sandman was a unique blues soul with a rude talent as few were born. He worked in fishing boats and as a night taxi driver, before realizing that his talent was to masterfully transform the nocturnal atmosphere of the city into sounds and words. He was probably destined to take up the legacy of masters like Nick Cave and Tom Waits but we will never know because in 1999 fate made him collapse on stage with his bass in hand during a concert in Palestrina, Rome, immediately after pronouncing these words: "Thanks Palestrina, it's a beautiful evening, it's nice to be here and I want to dedicate a super sexy song".

Here for you a deserved tribute to the “baritone experience” of Morphine.