When the e-mail came, through a connection via Examiner.com, to review the band Moritat (Mor-e-taht), there was a sense of subdued excitement that arose and the thought, "who is Moritat?!" Well, just hold on! Let the story unfold. What a story it is...
Moritat is a band from Chicago that describes themselves as Chicago post-rock, pop and hip hop. But they are so much more than any genre can explain. Let's start at the beginning, with the members - Konstantin (bassist/guitarist/vocals), a former resident of Serbia until about 7 or 8 years old; Venus (keyboard/vocals), a native Chicagoan from the South Side and Corey (drums/background vocals) - who is from Indianapolis, Indiana who made his way to Chicago after graduating from college. This trio is a phenomenal force when it comes to innovation in their music. The level of thought they put into their music is immediately evident. Konstantin and Venus met years ago and did a project together called "Elephant Shoes", which is sort of a piano pop type of album and a short time later, Konstantin introduced Venus to Corey and the rest, as they say, is history.
When asked what was different about being in this band versus others they had been in before, Corey spoke first. "I've been in many bands before and a lot of times communication breaks down, or someone doesn't work as hard. With these two, everyone communicates well, is honest with each other and holds a similar willingness to work as hard as everyone else." Konstantin echoed the communication aspect and added that in the 3 or 4 years they've been together, "We have never argued even though no one holds back." In a band that says they are sober when making music, this is a truly remarkable statement. Not one argument in 3 plus years! Venus added that this is "a good combination of people that don't like to fight." They all concurred that, individually, each of them constantly wants to try new things and "no one says no." Since starting the band, all three have moved into the same house and helped build a recording/practice space. "Sharing a house can be difficult, but having three good cooks sort of brings us together. Band meals together bonds us in a way that we couldn't have otherwise," says Konstantin.
The next question is about the music: "How would you all describe this latest album, Clill Blanzin?"
Venus spoke first, after conferring with Konstantin and Corey, saying, "This is a collection of our greatest hits from the future." Konstantin backed her up, saying, "Yeah. This is what we imagine future music to be like and if an archaeologist from the distant future were to find a time capsule [from 2050] that had music recordings in it, this is the kind of music we think they would find." "We really pushed the boundaries with this and we just didn't worry about genres," he added.
So, the next question: "Where did the name Moritat come from?"
"Well, it started out as sort of a joke. We listen to a lot of music and one day we were listening to this Sonny Rollins record called "Saxophone Colossus" that contains a song named Moritat, which means "deadly deed" and the name just kind of stuck," says Konstantin as he takes another sip of his Schlafly Kolsch. He explains that the song is based on the "Mack the Knife" song, originally made by Kurt Weill. Corey and Venus echo that sentiment and Corey mentions that, "even now, we still share music, like the re-release of D'Angelo's Voodoo that came out recently. We've been listening to that a lot."
After much conversation about the soul and beauty of D'Angelo's project and the state of music, the band finally took the stage after a set from 3 of 5 (a play on the Star Trek borg theme), whose lyrics managed to include stories about being an Autobot (Transformers) in disrepair, drifting through space and evil mad scientists, all while wearing a replica Star Trek uniform. This act definitely set the stage for a futuristic treasure trove of post-rock music.
On stage, all three of the band members shined, especially the quite beautiful Venus (Konstantin and Corey aren't so bad either). Konstantin, rocking his Japanese Gi upper, Venus in her glowing white and Corey in his every man garb struck the audience with complex harmonies in their 3 part vocals as well as with their electronic rhythms over rock-style guitar riffs, all held up by Corey's incredible drum patterns. Venus sang lead with the boys backing her up and it was quite a show. If you haven't heard them yet, you should go see them soon. Some of this crowd's favorites were 'Shopping', 'Automatic Lover', 'Wheelin' and 'I Forgot to Kiss Her', which has a video coming out very soon, produced by Clint Mosley - featuring a water-like backdrop in a completely animated format.
The band says they will be back in Saint Louis in April. We should all be looking forward to their next show, keep an eye out for them this spring, here and across the nation. Until then, here is a little taste: