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Album Review

Justin Morell: Exit Music For Intelligent Life on Earth

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Justin Morell: Exit Music For Intelligent Life on Earth
Guitarist Justin Morell thinks big. His concept for writing the compositions for All Without Words: Variations Inspired By Loren (Tiger Turn, 2021), from the John Daversa Jazz Orchestra Featuring Justin Morell, came to being via his experiences in raising his autistic son. Now, his Exit Music For Intelligent Life On Earth explores the challenges concerning climate change and a potential search for a new home for humankind.

Science fiction novels contain a subgenre called speculative fiction. Exit Music For Intelligent Life On Earth could be called speculative jazz. He breaks this musical novel into twenty-one short chapters, grouped in the five sections: "Present Day," "Ocean Warms," "Ice Breaks," "Desert Forms'' and "New Home." The music's closest comparison to current science fiction novles is Kim Stanley Robininson's Mars trilogy, which began with his Red Mars (Spectra, 1992), with its short sections assembled adeptly into a greater whole.

The sound? It is Morell layering all the guitar parts—sometimes as many as fifty per tune—-along with drum parts by Mark Ferber added after the initial guitar work was laid down by Morell (painstakingly, we can guess) in his home studio. Twenty different guitars were employed to create the soundtrack to a warming Earth, the sting of cracking ice at the poles, icebergs breaking away from glaciers, the expansions of parched deserts and ultimately a journey to a new and hopefully unsullied world.

Musically, Morell's finely focused vision can be compared to the work of fellow guitarist Pat Metheny, with the meticulous production, the expansive orchestrations, the pure, complex beauty of the work. Indeed, spinning this disc (multiple times—it is compelling) and reconsidering the previously-mentioned All Without Words, says that Justin Morell should be considered for inclusion in the top tier of jazz guitarists, along with Metheny and Bill Frisell, while his Exit Music For Intelligent Life On Earth is a likely candidate for inclusion in 2022's Best Jazz Records of the Year.

Track Listing

One Degree; Contagion; Migration; Cyclogenesis; Thermohaline Circulation; Anoxia; Ablation Zone; IsostaticRebound; True Polar Wander; Littoral Zone; Evapotranspiration; Aellian Saltation; Hadley Cell; Xerocoles; Xerophytes; The Journey; Arrival; Homestead; Ecopoies; First Harvest; Life Underground.

Personnel

Justin Morell: guitar; Mark Ferber: drums.

Album information

Title: Exit Music For Intelligent Life on Earth | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Sonic Frenzy Records

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