CD, M-tronic, 2006
“Cage Fighter’s Lullaby” is the third studio album from the growing repertoire of Michael Morton, a.k.a. Displacer. Anticipated since the critical acclaim of “Arroyo” in 2004, this new effort is every bit as mesmerizing as previous work, and exhibits a continued solidarity in stylistic direction. Displacer acts as opiate – encompassing, saccharine and shadowy – though not a moment of the music is lost to unused space, psychedelic indulgence, or idle nuance. “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby” embodies a cessation of aggressions (songs for soothing the violent, as the title suggests), yet despite calming chords and ultra-rich bass, it maintains a powerful undertone of anxiety and threat. In addition to eleven original tracks, the album includes four new remixes by Keef Baker, Architect vs. Klima, Urusai and Coordinates.
Amply stocked with the billowing atmospherics and crisp breakbeat rhythms dark electronic fans have come to expect from Displacer, “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby” is a syrupy heaven of juxtapositions. Warm and pillowy bass tones (“Sixty”) tremble beneath haunting and lush atmospheres, sending the listener soaring above vast, dreamlike landscapes. Carefully structured percussion caresses elements of ethereal melody with underwater grace (“Left on Pluto”). Upbeat rhythms at times play counterpart to relaxed intonations (“Derelict” and “Flying Snow”), creating dichotomies of sound that resonate with power and motion.
Often quiet and reserved, “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby” demonstrates a less-is-more approach that is astonishing in its subtleties. Poignant notes in the opening track (“Cage Fighter’s Lullaby”) prelude the unfolding spiritual trajectories found in later tracks, such as “My Enemy” and “Imaginary Friends.” Not only do plucked strings and minor keys suggest far-eastern influence, but samples scattered throughout pay homage to classic martial arts films (as does the album’s superb cover art). From the funk elements of “Natural Selection” to the shrill ghostly treble, stuttering beats and menacing grind of “High Anxiety,” there is enough diversity on “Cage Fighter’s Lullaby” to keep the easily distracted floating right along with the rest of us.
— Dutton Hauhart