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Moth to Mouth

Moris Tepper

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Album Review

On his 1996 debut album Big Enough to Disappear, Moris Tepper seemed undecided as to whether he wanted to be a folk-rock singer/songwriter in the mold of Bob Dylan and Neil Young, or a quirky noise rocker like Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits (both of whom had employed him as a sideman). That choice seems to have been resolved — for the most part — seven years later on his second solo album, Moth to Mouth, in favor of the Beefheart/Waits side. Running 61-and-a-half minutes and containing 24 tracks (actually 25 songs, though, counting a hidden one perhaps called "Come See Me" that follows "The Palm of His Hand" at the end), the disc is a hellzapoppin collection of disparate musical ideas, many of them unfinished, with each succeeding track a surprise. Will the next tune be a conventional country-folk ballad? Or a raucous lo-fi rock track on which the singer seems to be screaming through a megaphone? It could be either one, or something else entirely. Some tracks not only present more conventional songs, but also a more polished sound, but usually the sound is self-consciously primitive, with percussion seemingly improvised from kitchen utensils, not unlike a Mitchell Froom/Tchad Blake production. Tepper seems to have about half-a-dozen different vocal styles, ranging from a grainy tenor à la Tom Petty ("Impossible Things") to a more sonorous, near-spoken style in the Johnny Cash manner ("Magic 8 Ball"). But whether he's singing or shouting, strumming or pounding, he produces a series of roughly produced performances that vary considerably in mood.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Moris Tepper first gained attention playing guitar as member of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, performing on such albums as Ice Cream for Crow and Doc at the Radar Station. He played on Tom Waits' Franks Wild Years, and on a handful of Frank Black's albums. In 1995, the Japanese Polystar Records label released his "folk-alt" side project Eggtooth's album Sundowner. A year later, Tepper self-released his debut solo album, Big Enough to Disappear, on his own Candlebone...
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Moth to Mouth, Moris Tepper
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