I find instrumental music to be one of my favorite genres. The artist is free to create intricate soundscapes without having to structure it around a vocalist. I first got introduced to instrumental hip-hop through DJ Shadow’s landmark album Endtroducing…... After that, I was shown Madlib and J-Dilla, two more pioneers in that genre. I had been on the hunt for artists that would blow me away in the same fashion that those guys did. Enter: Morti Viventear, a Montréal-based producer who created one of the most beautiful hip-hop instrumental albums I’ve heard in recent times. Time to go underwater with Morti’s album Lovecraftmanship!
In Depth Analysis:
The album opens up with sparse guitar line along with a synth in “Legend, Lore And Legacy”. Morti a flute-like instrument next, and before you know it, the beat kicks in and the feel of song completely changes. What once felt somber is now riddled with layers of synths riding on a back-beat. It’s the perfect opening song to the album because it sets the scene for this haunting world. The album then segues into “Shoggoth” another song that rides the back-beat while a creepy voice sample and sounds of going underwater move the song forward. It sounds as if the samples are the voices of sirens calling towards you as you try to reach for air, only to be pulled back in.
“North Point Lighthouse” probably has my favorite composition out of any of the songs. The way the bass sits in the pocket and vibes out with the drums while the flute and guitar bring the mids and highs out is simply beautiful. There’s a singer or a vocal sample in this particular song that is reminiscent of Flora Purim’s vocal work on the first two Return To Forever albums. Even when most of the instruments drop out and it’s just the singer, it’s still a captivating experience.
The album then takes a turn and shows off it’s horror roots with a less than one minute sample in “Innsmouth skit 1”. In the description of the album, Morti explains that he used to read a lot of horror fiction, and that once he found hip-hop he abandoned his reading of the macabre. As he grew up, he wonders where his love of horror would have taking him, and merges it with his love of hip-hop. This skit no-doubt pays homage to that, but it feels a little out of place on the album as a whole.
“Raandaii-B’nk” has a very Middle Eastern vibe to it, possibly due to the fiddle at the beginning of the song. Morti adds another fiddle to the mix part of the way in, and the way they overlap is mesmerizing. As the song progress, a synth that sounds like a choir joins the mix, filling out the high end. Around the two minute mark, a sample of rapper is also added, which surprisingly fits the feel of the song. A distorted electric guitar sneaks its way into the song as well, making this one of the busier songs on the project.
The final song on Side A is “Monstre de Lac”, and the intro ties in the horror concept nicely. It immediately changes stylistically to something you’d hear on the beach, especially with that guitar in the beginning. It has a chill groove to it, and the horns accent the groove nicely while keeping your attention to close of this side of the album
Upon opening this album on BandCamp “Sunken Drunken” is set to the default song. and for good reason. The ghost noted- drum beat and that bass line make this song my favorite off the entire album. It really provides a sense of exploration of the unknown, particularly when some instruments drop out of the mix and come back. It resembles a song that you would find in the video game Bastion by Supergiant Games. When the main melody drops out, and it’s just the bass, drums and keys, I can clearly hear an old school rapper flowing on this tune.
“Great Old Ones” gives me that that eerie feeling of being in a cave. It sounds as if I swam into it and I’m exploring said cave with wonder and amazement. The song fade into “Innsmouth skit 2” which again, I feel doesn’t fit the album well, but that’s my personal preference.
There is something very jarring and unique about “Father of All Sharks”, the tenth track on this project. It starts off the way many of the other songs on this project start, but towards the middle of the song, a piano enters that just gives you anxiety. It’s dissonant, and fades out in a way that legitimately makes you worry about this new world your in. The way the rapper sample is faded out sounds as if he is literally fading away, giving you the sense that the sharks really did get him…
“Gelatinous”, to me, describes progress of your search coming to a close. The song slows down to a halt towards the middle of it, giving you the idea that you’ve stopped, only to spin back up with vigor. I find the song to be valuable when as a segue to the final song.
The closing track to this album “Abysmal Death” is such an interesting and cool way to end the album. It’s similar to “Sunken Drunken” in the way that it brings you back into the unknown. You don’t feel safe, but you’ve gone to far at this point to turn back, despite what the final sample said. A great way to tie in this album.
When I first heard this album, it reminded me a lot of the Bastion soundtrack. Bastion is a game that describes a post apocalyptic world and Morti accomplished that with this album. After more listens, the album became a lot more sublime. It’s not one you sit down and analyze, but one you put on when working to whisk you away to a different world. A world where you’re exploring the depths of the sea, in both wonder and fear.
I absolutely love this album. There’s something so cathartic about it that I sincerely can’t express in words. The bass lines felt so smooth on top of the back-beats that this album is built on. Synths and samples were used strategically well and the overall presentation of the album is amazing.
You can listen to and buy the album here! Give it a listen and tell us what you think!