What does Mort Form sound like?
The review of Mort Form – Universe Round Trip
I’m a fan of albums that tell a story and ‘Universe Round Trip’ sets out to do just that. It is a chiptune/Moog synth hybrid album that tells the story of a space trip. In just under half an hour we’ll tour the stars and experience all kinds of sci-fi inspired electronica. Fun, playful and just enough bleeping to bring in the chiptune crowd, this is a lovely release.
After a singular-tone drone intro with ‘Anabiosis’, the album kicks off in earnest with ‘To the New Worlds’. It’s a triumphant upbeat mixture of chiptune electronica mixed with Moog, BOSS, Artuna and Korg synths. Those synths bring a unique style to the album because part of the soundscape is the bleeps and bloops of a spaceship. Here, it’s phasers and B-movie noises but in ‘The Puzzles of Milky Way’, the entire song is dressed in radar blips. They oscillate and whirl around your ears like crazy but maintain a melodic tone too. I feel like the spaceship is having a playful dance and I’m along for the ride. This feeling continues with warning sirens in ‘Meteor Rain’, a retro disco track that sounds like a C64 special.
After four tracks getting to know the spaceship, ‘Supersonic Sunrise’ feels more traditional in its electronica. Big sine basslines lead the way with an anthemic melodic synth creating a sci-fi cinematic universe for us. Everything has a B-movie vibrato to it that’s endearing too. The tinpot chirpy staccato way the synths and beats play out in ‘Breakfast in Weightlessness’ gives this track a clumsy vibe. It’d make a fun retro platformer character theme. Mort Form then plays with light detunement of synths with the broodier ‘Probe Launch’. This track is all about the bass and its very simple motif. It reminds me of very early game music and the innocence and glee of a very simple riff.
Mort Form turns away from playful retro fun for the final third of the album. We get dirty bass wubs with the industrial grime of ‘The Magnetic Field of Invaders’. A short cinematic piece that sounds unlike anything else on the album, it’s designed to make your bones vibrate. The same can be said for the incredibly grainy basslines of ‘Flying Through the Unknown Galaxy’ too. Taking that grain into an ambient space, ‘Abandoned Space Station’ mixes a filtered bass oscillator with whipcracked white noise. Listening with headphones on this track is cool. We then turn to the rubbery synths of ‘Activation of the Super Turbine’. This brings mock horror synths alongside a disco rhythm for a big crunchy disco number. The album closes in an odd fashion though. ‘Searching for a Nuclear Warehouse’ is a crunched-up, distorted micro melody that has had its beat sucked out of the speakers. It’s an interesting track but it doesn’t feel like the right place to end a journey around the universe to me. I was expecting some kind of dramatic finale and it happened three tracks earlier.
The mixture of spaceship sounds and chiptune elements is really what makes ‘Universe Round Trip’ stand out for me. Whilst tracks are largely in and out having shown themselves in just over two minutes each, they make an impact and don’t outstay their welcome. The round trip doesn’t feel fully rounded though, with the first half feeling far more uptempo and lively than the second half. I feel like it needed a pick me up towards the end to return back to base on, but instead, Mort Form leaves us a little lost in ambiguity. Some great ideas sprinkled throughout though and sci-fi fans will love it.
Recommended track: Activation of the Super Turbine
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