I’ve been kind of stalking Morgan Sorne‘s website for months now, hoping he’d announce an Asheville show. And then, like kismet, he appeared in my inbox yesterday. To get a personal note from a musician I really like is still breathlessly exciting, 13 or however many years into my job as an arts writer. Sorne says he’s in the process of mastering his new project, and he gave me a download to the last release, Death I. I’ve been listening to that and taking in the accompanying artwork, and decided to repost my review from the show that started it all, for me.
Originally posted on Mountain Xpress’ Mountain Oasis Tumblr:
I’d read about the band Sorne’s performance at SXSW. I’d heard the comparisons of front man Morgan Sorne to Jim Morrison. And some living saint (whatever that means). I’d watched his videos. And even still, I was utterly unprepared. He walked on stage at Asheville Music Hall with a black scarf draped, hoodlike, around his head, prostrated himself before the mic stand, wrapped the mic chord around his neck and let out an earthly howl that shook loose every preconception I’d carried in.
Mostly I though things like, “Wha—?” and “How?” and “Holy hell.”
So, yes, there is a definite nod to the reincarnation of Jim Morrison, his ghost dance intact. But Sorne (the guy) is light years beyond those early forays into spirit rock and psychedelic-tinged showmanship. Sorne (the band) is drummer Dean Cote (who plays standing up), and Kevin Naquin on samples and mallet percussion (mainly a huge bass drum), and then Mogan on additional percussion (mainly a frame drum, which he alternately pummels and dances with) and an impossible vocal range.
It’s not just Morgan’s range so much as the fact that he seems to contain dozens of different singing voices, from fierce to ethereal.
And, while the melody is carried by electronics, this band is decidedly earthy. Rooted in rhythm and wilderness. Possessed by something magical, some sort of voodoo that is frightening and yet compelling.
Sorne, although given possibly the absolute worse festival time slot — the band’s schedule was changed at least three times and they finally arrived on stage, after 48 hours with no sleep due to a tour with Beats Antique just as both Nine Inch Nails and Animal Collective were set to play other venues — were absolutely committed from the the first note. At the end of the show, Morgan staggered from the stage in complete exhaustion.
But up to that final moment, he rode a current of wild energy. Dark-eyed and sweat-drenched, he seemed born of the deep heart of the forest as night is falling and strange animals are stirring. Or of the core of a nightmare that doesn’t instantly dissipate on waking. Or else he came to battle those demons, to exorcise them with his army of drums and his vocal schizophrenia. His terrifying and gorgeous multiplicity.