Alex Morgan is a techno DJ & producer from Manchester with an increasing back catalogue of releases on labels such as Sleaze and Unknown Territory. He is also the co-founder of the popular Manchester techno night Rhythm Theory, who burst onto the scene a couple of years ago and who have since welcomed such respected acts as Slam, Inigo Kennedy, Norman Nodge, Roberto, Milton Bradley and Mike Denhert to town. Born and bred in Manchester, he is now firmly established on the local circuit, and has a new EP coming out on Lex Gorrie’s Unknown Territory imprint – I was lucky enough to grab an advance copy of the EP and immediately dived in…
Alex’s productions are always upfront and this one is no exception – the percussion takes time to come in, letting the deep chiming, rumbling bassline and thumping kicks set the scene for a good minute or more. A syncopated melody leads us deeper into the music and provides the direction throughout. There is a lot happening in the rest of the track, some high synth notes (reminiscent of a theremin) adding emotion to the groove and lots of small variations and fills making this a complex and intriguing listen. The tension is brought out beautifully at the end using higher notes on the syncopated melody and gently panning percussion.
‘The truth will only weaken us’
The title track opens lower with multiple elements moving in over the kicks and heavy bassline wobble. Loopy analogue sounds are right at the front, and excellent use is made of key changes and a frisson of acid and reverb to keep things moving. Percussion hisses underneath and claps sit on top as the melody mutates further into the breakdown – almost reaching a vocal sound before dropping back down to a driving acid line, fading slowly in and out of the fore as some fizzing, panning high notes add a lighter, slightly euphoric feel to finish.
‘I wish I hated you’
This is my pick of the EP. The intro is laden with atmosphere as a filter plays heavily over a swirling pulsing note, before a powerful, throbbing bassline enters amid gated static percussion. Then the beats nudge the bassline into an irrepressible groove, intricate use of hihats building the energy, and some repetitive higher notes again adding a euphoric element. After a crescendo, all the elements fall into a clear strong arrangement and take the listener through multiple hands in the air builds and drops. The bassline keeps pumping away, the feet can’t help but move – a pure dancefloor missile!
Chugging broken beats from the off, providing a reference to the haunting, drawn out synths filling the background with an unnerving atmosphere, a single pulsing note flashing in the foreground like a lighthouse in a fog. A furious ride cymbal hits, and is perfectly executed and timed to lift the tension, as the pulsing note widens and low scything sounds announce a beatless break. Aptly named, the track conjours a feeling of space and voyaging afar, a track to lose yourself in, this would be a perfect late tune in a long set.
I also managed to catch up with Alex for a chat in between his commitments in music, sport and his career as a graphic designer:
So many people are producing music these days. Do you think you need to work on it full time to make a go of it?
Not at all really no, they’re many producers out there that I know that just do it in their spare time, so do I myself, when I finish work and at weekends is when I find myself in the studio. Being able to do it full time though of course would be a bonus 😉
Rhythm Theory have been responsible for some of Manchester’s best parties in its two year existence so far. Tell us how the night came about.
I’ve always wanted to run my own parties from a young age of being into music. I have known Mark Curley for several years now and we had always talked about it. Then I met Doug Shearer when he moved to Manchester from Glasgow, who also wanted to set up his own night, and since we all shared the same passion for techno, it stemmed from there really.
What sort of sounds inspire you right now, and what kind of influence do they have on your productions?
I try not to let other music influence my own too much, which I know is virtually impossible sometimes. But outside of the studio and nights out, I actually listen to surprisingly little amount of techno. I’m a big 80s fan and a bit of rock music, specifically the more electronic side of 80s, so maybe that influences me a bit in some way. But in terms of techno influence right now, it has to be people like Jonas Kopp, that type of simple techno that still has a big impact!
Do you have any interests outside of music, and do you think that can be helpful for music?
To be honest at the moment, music is a bit of an all encompassing hobby ha! I spend most of my time making noises in the studio.
Apart from my work as a Graphic Designer, I like my sports such as golf & squash, plus I like my video games when I’m at home, or a good film. I’m not too sure if that can be helpful for my music directly though, maybe the creative aspect of my job can get ideas flowing musically.
The forthcoming EP is sounding great! Can you tell us where the idea came from? Can we expect more music in the pipeline from you?
Thanks! I can’t really say where the idea came from. I never go into the studio with an idea per se. If I do, I usually end up wasting time trying to re-create it (as I’m probably not that musical in the classic sense). I tend to start playing around with a certain synth or technique etc, and then they usually spiral from that. And yes, there is more music coming from me this year with another EP on Sleaze Records plus a track featuring on the next compilation on Unknown Territory again.
“Techno” seems to be the popular genre right now with a lot of producers turning towards it and new nights starting up. What’s your thoughts on the scene?
When I first started going out, there wasn’t that many techno nights in Manchester, maybe once a month at best, or maybe I didn’t know where to look at the time. However there are so many now, I would say Manchester has one of the healthiest techno scenes in the UK with the likes of Meat Free, Good Gatherings, Adapt and Playground to name a few, all pulling in good acts consistently. So we are spoilt for choice in Manchester, which for me is a good thing 🙂
Thanks for taking time to talk to us today! Where can we see you in action next?
You can catch me next at the Good Gatherings take over at Bedrock Festival, or as usual at my own Rhythm Theory parties, we have Jeff Derringer up next on the 9th Sept, followed by Stranger on the 14th October, then Emmanuel on the 25th November.
‘The truth will only weaken us’ is out on Unknown Territory (UT031) on Monday 15 August 2016, and is available directly from the labels Beatport page here: https://www.beatport.com/release/the-truth-will-only-weaken-us-ep/1811652. Keep your eyes peeled, Alex’s commitment to his productions leaves me in no doubt he’s on course for some big things soon!
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