Alastair Galbraith's crushingly wise, atmospheric, sky-sawing song-cycle of minimalist folk-rock/psychedelia, Morse....gaaahh!!!!! We had a faint inkling of how good this record is - it's built up a bit of a rep since its original '93 release - but I must confess I hadn't given it a proper listen until very recently. Fuck me. It's one of those records that's so perfect in writing and spirit and execution that you feel, immediately, as though you've known it your whole life. Reminds me of that thing Lawrence said in the '80s: "Felt's biggest fans haven't been born yet". Galbraith's songwriting genius, though often vaunted by his fans, has perhaps been obscured for the rest of us by his more prolific adventures in improvisation and brittle instrumental abstraction; and while Morse is an unmistakeably art-damaged and drone-worshipping set, the songs really are the thing - ecstatic repetitions, chord-changes that feel like open-heart-surgery without the general anaesthetic, and droll, obliquely poetic lyrics which don't seek or claim to solve the mysteries of life, love and the universe, being happier instead to deepen and extend 'em. Their are echoes of early Syd, Skip Spence, Robyn Hitchcock at his most caustic, The Astronauts at their most despairing...the most obvious comparison is probably Peter Jefferies' similarly textural, high-lonesome Last Great Challenge In A Dull World, but I think Morse is somehow the more penetrating and durable record, with that perfect mingling of numbness and emotion that is basically everything we look for in music. Recorded on 4-track in Dunedin and Wellington, Galbraith handled the bulk of instrumental duties: acoustic and electric guitars, piano and double-tracked vocals in simple arrangements that yield consistently complex results, all strafed with long lunar notes of organ, violin and barely-there synth. Bloody magnificent.