Morgan Geist - "City of Smoke and Flame" (Double Night Time)
Morgan Geist is lost. The New Jersey native has spent his entire career refining the pulse of early ’80s Detroit. Whether it was releasing material under his own name or as half of the lauded duo Metro Area, producing and remixing for contemporaries, or running the Environ label, Geist has kept busy in an effort to keep his passion profitable. But as a veteran of the electronic scene with a reputation built largely on two albums from 1997 (The Driving Memoirs) and 2002 (Metro Area), Geist has the common predicament of struggling to stay afloat amid a dying industry.
Double Night Time is, then, the sound of a man out for a drive across town to clear his mind. Culling material from as long ago as 2006 and enlisting the vocal help of Junior Boys’ master whisperer, Jeremy Greenspan, Geist has always been masterful at straddling styles with class. The end result is no different here: Lying somewhere between electropop, space-disco and techno, Double Night Time plays as a pleasant refinement of the Junior Boys.
Opener “Detroit” sets the mood with Greenspan crooning the lyrics to Geist’s discovery of the electronic world he would soon be immersed in. And stealing from, for that matter: The silvery synthesizers have been lifted directly from Morgan’s own 2001 single “24K,” and Greenspan whispering “Detroit” ad infinitum hardly seems novel this year. It’s only the first of several cleverly recycled moments that make this album the understated after-hours anthem it is: “24K’s” b-side “Lullaby” closes the album, and both tracks off 2006’s “Most of All” 12” are present.
Double Night Time’s true strength lies in Morgan’s ability to sequence this old material with new; vocal cuts with instrumentals; upbeat with downbeat. That this solo effort is just that – Greenspan’s vocals and writing input for “City of Smoke and Flame” aside – pays handsome dividends. Despite the subtle stylistic shifts and gradual momentum building and releasing, no song feels out of place or misjudged. Morgan Geist may not know what he’s going to do next, but he at least knows where he is right now. The 47 minutes of Double Night Time are his dismissal of Environ’s recent post-disco aesthetic and an inviting return to the familiar territory of his youth.