Portland-based mini orchestra Typhoon teased some vague news back in September with a simple 24-hour warning. The next day we were gifted a 10-song record from bandleader Kyle Morton to be accompanied by a short tour later in the winter. The solo release, What Will Destroy You, will come naturally to the ears of fans of the band with Morton’s songwriting holding the full spotlight. What is usually a force of just over 10 additional musicians is replaced for the most part by acoustic guitar.
The Swedish American Hall will play host to Morton’s second night out on his first solo tour. Wednesday will actually make Morton’s second visit to the venue, after performing a few songs during Noise Pop 2013 for a Radio Silence panel. This time around, plan on encountering a seated room along with a hushed crowd. You can also likely expect selections from the new release, which I was I was able to chat with Kyle about.
My most immediate curiosity revolved around his desire to release solo material under his name. In the end, the most significant piece of the puzzle came down to a lull in band activity which, when spending less time organizing a dozen people, actually allows more time to write music.
Over the course of a month — a time period immensely smaller than that of recording the full band — in 2015, Morton recorded the songs with regular collaborator Paul Laxer. “It was by far the easiest time spent making a record.” Notably filled with a much more sparse instrumentation, Kyle elaborated how it came to be. “There are a few songs on here that could have been on a Typhoon record, like those in the past that were just me and a guitar. I recorded it during a time when things were slow with Typhoon, Shannon (violin) was in Boston, others were traveling. I ended up playing everything myself.”
And that included everything, from guitar and drums to the saxophone he admitted he hadn’t picked up since he was young. The only instrument that was met with some self-criticism was the violin: “It wasn’t that it was that bad, it’s probably just something that would bother me, I wouldn’t go and try and compare it to what you hear on the Typhoon records.”
The songwriting of Typhoon often inclufes personal reflections and retellings of Morton’s life. But as it was already decided the record wouldn’t necessarily be under the band’s moniker, there was a subtle shift. “Mainly, I ended up making this less personal. A lot of the music in the past had this auto-mytho-graphical quality to it….there was more playing around with characters.” Surrounding this period he noted recent Damien Jurado records made an appearance into the sphere of influence, along with Paul Simon.
In the album’s announcement, Kyle wrote: “With a couple exceptions these songs are about kinds of love, from old fashioned heartache to acute sadomasochism; some drawn from personal experience and others extrapolated from years of keen observation on the subject.” Some songs are easily recognized as more overt love songs (“Water Torture,” “My Little Darlin Knows My Nature”) and some are draped with a more dreary atmosphere covering mortality or the less romantic peaks of close relationships. We jumped back and forth between songs for a while, trying to place the tracks into their categorized love song — after a few circles, lines kept being drawn to connect “Survivalist Fantasy,” “ Automatic,” and “Perverse Fascination” together.
There was an obvious thread joining them. Cut into thirds, the previously mentioned songs fade into a distorted voice on a tape recorder. Kyle commented on the dream sequence that is pieced together through the record: “The story is built off of a dream I was having. It’s something I think everyone has encountered. You at first are confronted with something threatening only later to find the figure is there to help you.” Here in the conclusion of the dream, the perceived stabbing is actually removing all the spiders from the narrator, freeing him.
At the end of our conversation, Kyle indulged me on the ideal listening environment for What Will Destroy You.
. “It is definitely a headphone record. I’d recommend going outside and walking around wherever you live. If you aren’t up for the whole exercise thing just plug in inside.” He then dared to suggest it is not a party record.
For those holding on to the promise of Typhoon’s fourth LP, the band is moving increasingly towards the gift-wrapping process and planning on a 2017 release.
Anthony D’Amato added his fourth record to his discography in 2016 and will be joining Kyle on trek up I-5 for the West Coast half of the 10-show run. Each time the songwriter goes to record a new set the resulting record gains a bigger and bigger sound. Cold Snap, produced by Mike Mogis, boasts musical assists from Conor Oberst along with members of The Faint and Cursive. Give the new album a test run with the rollicking “Rain On A Strange Roof” or protest song “If You’re Gonna Build A Wall.”
Kyle Morton, Anthony D’Amato
Swedish American Hall
January 4, 2017
7pm, $15 (21+)