Sunday, January 17, 2010

Morsel: Raise the Noise Floor

Howdy, readers of First and Foremost.

Usually, I’m reading this blog…or working on the graphic end of things. So just a quick word on me: I’m Chantal, an old friend and fellow musician of this awesome blog’s author; Ben. As a fellow guitarists and music junkies, we’ve shared about a billion cups of coffee and even more opinions on bands—local, global, imaginary, whatever.

In fact, Ben asked me to write about a band that I saw about 15 years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan…and the funny part is, after relentlessly searching for the album for a year or so (remember, folks, these are the good old days of poring over REAL records in a store—you know, the ones you can touch), he was the first one to find and give me their CD! Wonder if he knew how long winded I'd be? Haha. Without further ado, the tale of the band in question…


In 1996 I traveled to Ann Arbor to a little club downtown. I’m pretty sure it was called “The Basement” (didn’t every town have one?). It was the basement/parking garage for a series of buildings downtown and had sort of a maze-like quality to it. Walking through the corridors and around the beams you were never sure if you would find indie kids sharing liquor or transients. I mingled with both for plenty of shows there.

Anyhow, I had never heard of any of the bands before and wasn’t incredibly interested in too much of what I saw, so I had wandered down some corridors and was hanging with some kids, smoking cigs, chatting. The next bad started sound checking and I was pretty damn sure that I heard a flute. Being a flautist myself I was immediately interested. Ten seconds later I heard a buzz saw. Aha. Attention grabbing. I wandered back in and what I had heard was the 4-piece band Morsel preparing for their show, which was 30 minutes of somewhat mathy, grungy, post-punk/prog juiciness that included super flangy vocals, guitar, flute with distortion and…yes, bandsaw solos. Beats a pentatonic scale any day of the week, my friends!
Vocals were fantastic; the perfect mix of female-led (Miriam Cabrera) screaming, breathy, minor-melodic and screaming. I was immediately hooked. As a woman and a musician I am actually ALOT more critical of females in music; so a love-at-first-listen connection was quite rare for me.

Turned out they had recently signed to Choke Records (Chicago). Already a fan of the label (Ben is as well—in fact, the player this month is sporting other Choke gems like Jaks and Phil Beddow), I thought it was a perfect fit for them. They released the album Noise Floor which was super tasty. A few years later, the label crumbled (boo-hoo) and they released an EP with Small Stone records out of Detroit. Didn’t dig that record as much, though it had a few decent tracks.Other releases followed, but none that intrigued me much.

I still rock Noise Floor all the time though…and it turns out that no matter how many years pass, when I put it in…I listen to the whole CD all the way through. Somehow it is like Thai food to me…the perfect combination of every flavor. Power tools included. It is heavy, minor-melodic and even has a few sweet instrumentals with trumpet, flute and interesting twists.

Here’s a track from Noise Floor for anyone interested. Know that it kills me to choose one, but I'm too lazy to include more. I’ve also added more links at the bottom.

Noise Floor

Choke Records, 1994

Morsel on Myspace
Wiki On Morsel

Link removed per band request. You can now purchase a digital copy w/ a bonus track at their new Bandcamp site here.


  1. Thanks for doing this Chantron! Great post! Hopefully your presence here will be felt beyond the graphically aspect more often! Yer the best!

  2. Great post, I've been looking for this record for awhile now. It was a casualty of a "I-need-money-what-can-I-sell-to-the-record-store" binge many many moons ago. Would've thought Choke Inc would have gone tits up so quickly, and all their great releases would turn to ether.

    Looking forward to turning this up real loud.

  3. "It was a casualty of a "I-need-money-what-can-I-sell-to-the-record-store" binge many many moons ago."

    I know this all too well! It's nice we can all help each other fill the gaps in our collections that being poor has caused over the years! haha

  4. Hell yeah, crank that shit!
    Glad to fill the spot in.

  5. great band! ... played with them a few times in Ann arbor while touring. Good people.

  6. !!!!