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The genre-hopping tendencies of Skrill Meadow

Oddball bite

Markly Morrison, aka Skrill Meadow, can often be found behind turntables. Photo courtesy of

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Before I had even heard Prince, I heard the lo-fi, gonzo appropriation of Prince's sound in Ween. Here were a duo of weirdos that loved progressive rock and early '80s funk, but who filtered that love through tape machines and more than a little bit of huffed Scotchgard. Even after hearing Purple Rain, I still get a bit of a kick out of the waves of grimy dudes with tapes in basements making their approximations of love-making R&B - a very singular genre that shouldn't be as prevalent as it is.

I was surprised and delighted to hear the latest from Skrill Meadow, the one-man band of Markly Morrison. Private Memories is an album of straight-up slow jams, albeit jams coming directly from one shitty tape machine to your ear. Despite his limitations, Morrison embodies the consummate frontman, reeking of sex and brimming with confidence, even if it may be buried beneath layers of tape hiss. "Double Back (Make it Nice)" is a bouncy bit of squelching, synth-y soul that could inspire a dance floor of unbelievers to shake their asses. It's an album full of the lo-fi stank of Ween and Beck.

"I was seventeen when I assumed the moniker of Skrill Meadow, which would have been 1999," says Morrison. "I felt the hankering to make a bunch of music at home. I made a bunch of tapes, took them to my buddies around my college and it just stuck. I used the name to represent whatever I'm doing at the time. ... My first proper album, there was a lot of crudely made, cut-and-paste techno and hip-hop stuff, mixed with some bluegrass and sound collage and the odd pop song or two, just all on the same record. I was just trying to hone my craft, as best I could, which I've been doing for the last fifteen years."

In the days since becoming Skrill Meadow, Morrison hasn't quite let up on the genre-hopping. Private Memories is pure sex, yes, but the album released just before is full of gospel standards (made for Morrison's mom, I'm told), even if it still has a little bit of the oddball bite that colors all of his music. Even with all of the charmingly lo-fi recoding and carefree instrumentation, Morrison doesn't stick entirely to bedroom oddities - he's also a member of one of the most acclaimed and lushly recorded bands in the Northwest, LAKE.

"I just like to throw a wrench in the gears, when I'm working on a concept record," says Morrison. "It's really broadened my horizons to play with LAKE. The thing about playing with LAKE is that we don't all live in the same town, so it costs us at least one hundred dollars to get together to practice. We write songs on our own and get together pretty seldom as a band. We'll get together and rehearse for two, three solid days at a time, and that's how we get the new set together and get ready to record the new album. That said, I have a lot of free time. It is a relief to have an outlet where anything goes."

As of the evening of this writing, Skrill Meadow has premiered two new songs off of the upcoming album, Lost on Vacation. Unlike the rest of Morrison's recordings, this album features the new five-piece band (Andrew Ebright, Nathan Gibson, Kyle LaCasse and Brian Wilson) that has been assembled to make up Skrill Meadows. While there's a fuller sound to be found on Lost on Vacation, as well as a '70s AM gold aesthetic, the restless genre-shifting remains a paramount in the music of Skrill Meadow.

SKRILL MEADOW, w/ Jupiter Sprites, Grey Waves, 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 13, Deadbeat Olympia, 226 N. Division St., Olympia, cover tba, 360.943.0662

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