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Tim Morse

The Archaeology Project: 2005-2020

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation set from Tim Morse is classy. I like the mix of sounds here. The thing is, this almost feels like these songs were made to fit along with each other. I guess that speaks to both the quality and the consistency of Morse's music. I can't think of a better introduction to his music than this CD. I should mention that I have previously reviewed a number of these tracks on their original albums. For the sake of consistency I have modified those track reviews for use here.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Guitar Etude 1
This is a short, classical-music based acoustic guitar solo.
Apocalyptic Visions
The sounds of warfare can be heard at the start of this. That gives way to a dreamy, trippy kind of ambience. The cut eventually moves outward from there, getting into some killer hard-edged proggy jamming. Guitar and keyboards seem to compete with one another. Eventually some rocking vocals join over the top of a jam that seems like a combination of Dream Theater and Spock's Beard. This thing works through all kinds of different movements. It is a dynamic and powerful piece. There are parts of this that make me think of Mike Oldfield. At nearly 15-and-a-half minutes of music this is an epic piece. Morse makes good use of all that time by bringing so many different themes and movements to play. Yet, it all weaves together into one cohesive piece of music. This shows off both classic and modern prog leanings in fine fashion. Chaotic sounds are heard at the end of this.
Adrift
Based on intricate acoustic guitar textures, this is a pretty cut that makes me think of Genesis to some degree.
Rome
In a lot of ways this one makes me think quite a bit of Kansas, but there are sections that are closer to Yes and others that even feel a little Genesis. Still other points take us in some fusion-like territory.
Voyager
This one comes out with more of a mainstream rock element. Still, it’s definitely progressive rock As the vocals enter the backing music has some Genesis and Yes within it. Some changes ensue as it continues. This thing is quite organic in terms of the changes and shifts feeling like they fit together, but it changes quite a bit. At times some melodic guitar really shines. At other places the keyboards are driving it. There’s a hard-edged movement later that seems to have some Pink Floyd mixed with some Genesis.
Window
This is a fairly short and intricate acoustic guitar solo that’s melodic and pretty. The sounds of crickets accompany the guitar.
Afterword
More dreamy and melodic, this is quite a pretty song. It’s rather ballad-like. That said, it’s a power ballad, if you consider it a ballad at all. It’s quite dramatic and has some great melodic guitar soloing later.
200 Yards
Jazzy piano is the dramatic center point as this number fires outward. The track grooves with a cool musical texture from there. There is a bouncy, jazz kind of vibe to this thing. It does get more prog rock in the mix, but that jazz thing remains.
My Ally
More of an energetic progressive rock texture is at the heart of this. I love some of the synthesizer sounds over the top. Overall this is sort of an accessible prog cut that has a lot of mainstream rock textures at its core. There are some intriguing shifts and changes that elevate it, though.
Inertia
A cut that runs almost three-minutes, this is a keyboard heavy instrumental track. It's quite atmospheric and dreamy. It's also quite strong.
The Mary Celeste
A cool keyboard driven movement emerges at the start. The cut moves onward from there in style. This has more of a folk prog vibe to it as the vocals come over this backdrop. Still, there are fusion elements in the mix. The instrumental arrangement has some particularly intriguing stuff as parts of the over layers and augmentation here. This is a pretty cut about a ship lost at sea. If you look up the title, you'll find that it's a historic event. I love the synthesizer textures that join after the two-minute mark. It drops way down for a piano and violin movement as that section reaches its apex. When it starts to rise up from there after the three-minute mark it really hits its most rocking point up to there. The violin continues to paint lines of sound over the top as things build. Then a guitar solo emerges as this gets really heavy. The exploration continues sans vocals as the keyboards get a solo after that. The piece hits a resolution or transition phase that eventually takes it to a piano based movement for the return of the vocals. Other instruments are heard over the top as it continues. That movement eventually ends the cut.
The Marquis
Jazzy piano starts this track. As the vocals join the tune has a bit of a jazz swing to it. This is mellower, but very tasty, too on this first voice section. The piano takes control after the vocals drop away. The number keeps evolving with that mellower jazzy texture as this continues. There are various changes that emerge, but that more sedate jazz element is the driving thing here, brought home in particular on the vibes solo. This has some cool elements (the backing female vocals as one) and a great groove.
Dogs
This is a cover of the classic Pink Floyd song. I've always said that if you are going to cover a song, you should make it your own. Well, Morse definitely does that. The cut starts with some dense keyboard work. That holds it until the first vocals join. As that happens we get a mode that feels a bit more like Floyd's The Wall album. The number makes its way toward a more faithful approach. The guitar solo section that follows those vocals brings it quite near to the sound of the original version of the piece. There is a weird drop away movement that eventually gives way to a jazz treatment. The cut works out a keyboard driven jam on one of the instrumental breaks. Saxophone brings more jazz to the table before we're brought back into the vocal zones. The number gets closer to the Animals version at times, but always has an altered sound from that.  At more than ten-and-a-half minutes of music, this is epic, but quite a bit shorter than the original. The cut will never touch the original, but it's an intriguing variant on it.
The Corners
Cinematic and dreamy with a lot of symphonic elements is a great way to describe this. It’s fairly short and ends the disc in style.
 
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