Klaus Morlock – Bethany’s Cradle

Genre: Progressive Rock
Released: November 2016
Reviewed by: Benedict Roff-Marsh

Let me start by saying that Klaus Morlock is an odd fellow. I know him by at least two names and I have no idea if any or either of them is related to reality. That, however, suits Klaus and his music very well as his style is almost exclusively Soundtracks for non-existent 70’s Horror Movies.

From album notes for the “Bridgecastle Road EP”

Her body was never found. At the time a student at Glasgow University, Saunders had been researching the history of British witchcraft — including the Bridgecastle Witch — and claimed to have identified the murdered servant girl as Charis Blaney. At this point, Saunders’ life spiraled into chaos. Suddenly prone to panic attacks and seizures, she left her parents’ house on the 24th of October 1964 and was never seen again.

I own a few Morlock albums and this isn’t his latest but the last I one bought, which perhaps makes us start with a negative – the albums can become a bit samey after a while. Upside is that Morlock knows & works his style well.

What Morlock does feels so unique and fresh these days.He goes right back and drags so much of the vibe of imagined 70’s Horror movies right into today that if you weren’t paying attention to the details he might well suck you into his twisted fantasy. Every time I listen (and I do) I feel transported to his world which means I am happy to call him an Artist. Matter of fact as a composer myself, Morlock is the closest thing I have to a real live modern influence.

Initially it may seem things hinge on the eeriness of Morlock’s tape deck, that seriously needs a service as it has the most horrible problem with speed stability (“wow” if we want to be technical) but it is the simple use of notes and timing that makes his spooky-dusty vibe more than anything else. Morlock bases his works in melody. He could have gone down the path of trying to emulate BBC Radiophonic Workshop with strange Dr. Who noises made with wacky synths but he prefers notes which I think is to his credit and makes the work more lasting.

Another factor is the choice of instrument voicings as Morlock never seems to try to introduce anything that couldn’t or wouldn’t have been put on (his wobbly) tape at that time. Where there are synth sounds they could well be from the ARP Odyssey or Solina Strings claimed. This is a good thing as just about every bit of retro 80’s stuff I have heard sounds horribly un-80’s. Having actually been there, I wish those kids would get an early Kim Wilde record and learn their craft. Morlock however, sounds very genuine and real.

While I can pick records which are similar, a Morlock record is unique.

This isn’t Prog Rock like Dream Theater but more like the sort of thing being done in the mid-70’s and even early-80’s where Prog Rock acts (or members) got involved in making Soundtracks. The obvious being things like Tangerine Dream’s outings on movies like “Deadly Care”.

What you get here is a progression of mood pieces that often only have no more than two or three instruments in each piece. Dull if you come in expecting a full Rock Show with the bombast knob set to 110% but really engaging if you like the more subtle or ambient side of Prog like perhaps Roger Glover’s “Elements” album from 1978 or if you happened to get the version of Bill Nelson’s “The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart)” album that came with the bonus “La Belle Et La Bete” disc which was soundtrack to a stage play, a real one even!

Those record may be a bit obscure but if you like Brian Eno’s “Music for Films” you are also in the same sort of territory.

I also own Morlock’s “The Bridmore Lodge Tapes” & “Penumbra”. If forced to make an either/or choice I’d probably choose “Penumbra” but there’s little in it. If you are looking for something truly unique for your collection then Klaus Morlock should be on your listening list.

I’m not aware of there being a Klaus Morlock website (it would probably be full of creepy non-history anyway) but he keeps a good Bandcamp presence with his latest work being November 2017 so you are never too far from more Morlock.