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Danton Jay | Morcenx

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Morcenx

by Danton Jay

A conceptual album focused on a journey to discovering the importance of sustainability through a beautifully arranged selection of creative and soulful folk, rock, jazz and blues originals.
Genre: Easy Listening: Adult contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. The Road
5:44 $0.99
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2. Race to Nowhere
5:19 $0.99
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3. Unconsciousness
5:02 $0.99
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4. Smoke Ring Halo
5:06 $0.99
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5. Greatest Place
4:05 $0.99
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6. No Picture
6:23 $0.99
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7. This Song to Sing
4:39 $0.99
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8. The Drive
3:39 $0.99
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9. Pull Again
5:38 $0.99
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10. Listen (A David Suzuki Essay)
6:35 $0.99
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11. Heading Home
3:51 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Danton Jay is a thought provoking singer/guitar-player/songwriter who combines musical flavours from multiple genres with important socio-environmental themes. After completing his degree researching promotional methods for sustainability and then travelling throughout Eastern Europe, Danton Jay returned to the studio to record a new and inspired album. Danton worked with the award winning producer Joby Baker who has produced numerous Juno and Grammy winning tracks. In the Spring of 2013 he released ‘Morcenx’ which fully encompasses his artistic styling. Smooth, emoting vocals and moody guitar licks are his most outstanding qualities; but you will also find refined musicality and lyrical prowess in his music. The music from the new album focuses on sustainability themes throughout a beautifully arranged story of discovery and travels. Each song accentuates unique aspects from jazz, blues, R&B, and rock. The album is the perfect set for music lovers who appreciate variety and creativity, and this is exactly what is delivered on the album.

FORWARD

The search for a muse is often an interesting journey. In my case the journey and the interests became my muse for the album Morcenx.
 
In the spring of 2009 my musical endeavour, Machina, had finally struck its last chord. An amicable ending to a five year journey with three of the greatest friends I’ll ever have. After writing, recording, touring, and promoting music during that period of time, I felt artistically drained. I had struggled with the insincere aspects of self-promotion; and after gaining in-depth knowledge of how the music industry truly functioned, I struggled with being a part of that too. So much of my energy focused on promotion and the business side of music resulted in me desiring a hiatus from the industry. The combination of money and art creates a difficult dilemma, and I will not feign to have any clue of how they should fit together at this point.
 
During my break I returned to University to complete my degree in psychology (one of my other strong passions). That last year leading up to school introduced me to some very interesting films and books fuelling an appreciation of how beautiful and delicate Earth is. Films such as BBC’s ‘Planet Earth’ and the film ‘Home’ focused on how magnificent the planet is; while  films such as ‘Shark Water’ and ‘Manufactured Landscapes’ focused on how humans are destroying this beautiful planet. The most profound information came from reading about the history of our agricultural culture and how it is affecting the terrain and our ability to maintain realistic population levels; two key books focusing on this are ‘Ishmael’ and ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’. These two books combined with ‘The Big Picture‘ by David Suzuki helped paint a very macro picture of what is going on in the world. And what is happening is not good. I will admit I felt quite hopeless during that time. The challenge seemed too large, and I doubted the impact one person could have. Then I recalled an art exhibit I had seen a couple years prior. It was an exhibit by Belgian architect Luc Schuiten who had designed a futuristic city where the cities were living organisms. Buildings are grown, windows are grown, cars are pedalled, and people are happy; it was beautiful. He also laid out a 200 year plan for converting our existing cities into ‘living cities’. It is an inspiring, brilliant idea that harnessed all the incredible things the environment has to offer, and it demonstrates how one person’s idea could be bigger than the whole problem altogether. This gave me hope.
 
Gaining a deeper understanding of global economic concepts, cultural globalization, and how these alter out biosphere (in very negative ways) lead me to want to make a change. Not an original thing to want to do, but it seemed right none the less. All this information stemming from the academia world called to me. I found a professor who researches ways to motivate humans to think and behave in environmentally conscious ways. This was very interesting to me, so I approached Dr. Robert Gifford and asked if I could help in his research. He ultimately encouraged me to do a whole piece of research myself. I focused on researching methods to change the individual (and thus the whole culture) into behaving in more sustainable ways. Having roots in media promotion I investigated whether environmental messages would better influence people coming from pop-culture figures or from scientists. The independent variable used was a recorded speech taken from an essay in David Suzuki‘s ‘The Big Picture‘ that people would listen to before being assessed on their environmental values. The results of a year-long study claimed that it didn’t make a difference who people thought was telling them the message, but hearing a message versus not hearing one did make a difference.
 
This discovery was cool, and it would soon play a role in my song writing.
 
With school done, my next step was to see some of these globe altering trends first hand, so I packed a bag, some recording gear, and my guitar. My starting point was France. I had an old friend getting married there and it seemed like great place to start my trek. Soon after that I found myself in the Balkans. This was eye opening. It was a clear depiction of western culture infiltrating into the world. What I mean by this is western consumerism had reached these places. Mass produced culture and all the little plastic consumables that come along with it had now landed here. People were eating it up (figuratively and literally), but they had no way to dispose of it. The most telling sign of this were the huge amounts of garbage that laid waste in the roads, parks, and streams. It was a disgusting scar on a culture and landscape. They had nowhere to dispose of the huge amount of waste this consumeristic culture had brought them. The most obvious thing amongst the all garbage was the plastic packaging; food packages had particularly caught my eye. Not long ago did these people grow and make their own food; but with low prices for processed foods and rising prices for real food, these mass produced, crappy products became a staple in their world. It was like seeing an infantile stage of the Walmart effect. I know it is not the only issue at hand or the most comprehensive example; but it made very clear the effects western culture was having. These effects are far worse and even more catastrophic in other areas of the world, which is further distressing. I kept moving; there was more to see.
 
One evening, while in a city where I felt the effects of joining the capitalistic consumer bandwagon had been the strongest, a Zeus like storm ravaged the night sky. Streets flooded and people flocked to shelter wherever it could be found. It was incredible and very symbolic for me, so I recorded the audio of the rain and thunder. This rain track eventually made its way to the album helping to recreate the mood and message of that night. There were many other instances during my trip where I felt the weather abnormalities were so perfectly placed that a message had to be in there somewhere. It was moments like these that filled my mind with the situations and issues I needed to write about.
 
I had planned to travel further East and further South, but after three months I had ascertained inspiration and epiphanies faster than I could have imagined. I had no idea how exposed all of these issues could be being only slightly removed my own culture. I figured seeing the even harsher effects in more distant lands would have to wait; I had what I needed to start writing. I made my way back to France where friends I had met at the wedding had invited me to rent an apartment if it appealed to me. I took them up on this offer and headed to Morcenx, where I spend a month hashing out the music I was now so inspired to write.
 
Morcenx is a small town an hour south of Bordeaux on the western coast of France. It was here that I was able to connect all the things I had learned about with the first hand observations I had recently made. My goal was to write twenty songs here, and thanks to a wish granted to me by Adrienne, a very positive and enlightened lady, I was able to accomplish this. I spent every day cooped up in that apartment trying to find the music and lyrics that would blend art and message all in one. Having done the psych research I felt it was important to impart themes of environmental consciousness in my music; even if it was just one line that made a female protagonist seem interesting because she too cared about these issues. I felt this sort of thematic placement would have an impact in the same way that in Europe bicycles are product placed with attractive models which makes cycling seem like an attractive thing to do (no spandex and helmets for those folks – just lots and lots of cyclists). If people think something is cool or sexy there is a good chance they will partake. I was also inclined to write songs directly about environmental issues, but I am and forever will be, very apprehensive about being preachy which made it challenging. I will not bore you with my writing approach but I will say at times it flows and at other times it is very painful. For instance the song Heading Home was written the moment I booked my ticket home; the emotional torment of realizing that I was headed back to exactly what I knew was the main cause of all these problems flushed a song right out of me in three hours. However, a song like Pull Again which encompasses the messages from a gorilla (Ishmael) took me months (even after I had returned home) to finalize. Needless to say twenty songs in a month was a great accomplishment for me; especially knowing full well only half would make it on the album.
 
With my songs in hand I said good bye to Morcenx. As I was leaving my friends imparted some very fitting knowledge to me. The town Morcenx is a living example of a community that has flourished on what was once a waste land from industrial use. I’d had no idea; it was beautiful and had all the charm of any other French town. How much more symbolic could it be? Accentuated by the beautiful bottle of wine they sent me off with from their family’s vineyard, it was a fitting conclusion to my time and efforts there.
 
Upon returning home I was excited to start recording. I set up my studio and got going. The two other studios I worked in and the people I recorded with were incredible. As the album neared completion I felt I needed a little bit more to hit the thematic message home. I decided to turn to the two people that were the most inspiring to me, Luc Schuiten and David Suzuki. I emailed Luc Schuiten through his website inquiring if he would be interested in letting me use his artwork for my album. His response was incredible; he was excited by the idea! This was so great. Being able to share his vision with everyone who listened to my music is a great honour for me and I believe his art is something that people need. I had also emailed the David Suzuki Foundation. I was hoping to somehow capture a piece of my research experience, so I asked them if I could use one of David Suzuki’s essays as a spoken word on my album. They too agreed with enthusiasm! This sort of community and sharing within the environmental community is such a heart-warming and positive thing. I could not be more fortunate; these two things gave me the momentum I needed to complete my project. I recorded the essay in much the same way I had recorded the independent variable of my research, except this time I improvised a single take of acoustic guitar underneath. Recording that guitar part was a very powerful musical moment in my life.
 
This is how I have spent the last four years; or at least a brief summary of that time. There are many more things I could say and many more details I could divulge but I am hoping that the music will do this for me. So without further a due, I present to you: Morcenx.

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