Morphine's latest release addictive

By Jason Fierstein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Morphine

Yes

Rykodisc

The injection of Morphine into the jazz/rock scene has taken their audiences on a smooth, seductive ride ever since the Cambridge, Mass. three-man experiment was founded five years ago. What defines the band is their innovative "low rock" sound quality. Stripped of guitars, Morphine's moody feel emanates from the blend of smoky tenor and baritone saxophones and two-string slide bass mastery, courtesy of singer/songwriter Mark Sandman.

On Yes, Morphine's third release, the continuum between jubilance and bluish depression never ceases to be explored. Morphine's guises are alluring in any context, especially when their upbeat hipness surfaces. "Honey White" brings out the band's lavishness, with Dana Colley's whirlwinding saxophones and the subtle throb of Sandman's back-burning bass. Drummer Billy Conway rolls a methodical pop drum beat that polishes off the pleasing sound.

Yes's speedy track "Sharks" falls somewhere between Sandman's anxious spoken word warnings and a worthy band jamming in improvisation. It's as if Morphine was handed instruments, thrown on stage at an open-mic session in a poorly lit lounge setting and made to improvise with their talents.

But then the languid blues and spookiness emerge on tracks like "Free Love" and "Whisper," a song of genuine genius. Each element of the Morphine formula on Yes accentuates the next; Sandman's sexy baritone vocals swirl around the tempting blue haze of Colley's trademarked sax services.

Morphine is an exemplary band that proves their worth on Yes. The band is successful despite a lack of skyrocketing album sales and big gigs. Their humbled intimacy works on Yes. It comes down to the fact that fans know what they like three well-conditioned musicians who communicate beautifully through their music.

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