10-24-2020 Staged Sen Morimoto - Schubas Tavern || Lincoln Hall
Last Call
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Saturday, October 24
Audiotree Presents: Staged

Sen Morimoto Album Release

All Ages
Your House

$10.00 advance

Audiotree presents STAGED: a virtual show experience presented live from Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL.
Tickets are on sale now for Sen Morimoto Album Release on October 24! A portion of proceeds benefit CIVL – Chicago Independent Venue League


It was a 2014 move to Chicago that inspired Sen Morimoto to start his solo rap project, drawing on a lifetime of experience as a cross-genre collaborator–R&B piano, noise rocks drums, improvisational jazz saxophone–to produce his own instrumentals. Playing out in his new city’s multidisciplinary scene led to a friendship with like-minded polymath Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, who encouraged Morimoto to record an album for his label, Sooper. That release, Cannonball!, incorporated Morimoto’s many discrete interests, and its unique fusion led to critical accolades and international festivals. “I tried everything I possibly could on the last album,” Morimoto says. “It changed my life a lot, and that process was scary to me.”

The self-titled Sen Morimoto is his sophomore effort for Sooper, of which he is now a co-owner. “Working with other artists from the label side showed me how everyone sets intentions for their art,” explains Morimoto. “That’s taught me a lot about treating my music as my baby, and giving it everything it needs to thrive.” This reinvigorated perspective, along with his fandom for songwriting heavyweights Carole King and Lauryn Hill, refocused Morimoto on lyrical foundations; he fervently edited to favor conversational lines and meticulously plotted arrangements that were “concise roadmaps.”

Morimoto wrote much of the album in transit and gazing out of windows, so motion and water recur thematically. Sleeping in unfamiliar places gave him vivid dreams, uncannily close to reality and hard to rouse from. This uncertainty between waking life and fantasy became his central focus, explored excellently on the detuned, eerily rolling haze of standout “The Things I Thought About You Started to Rhyme.” Morimoto toys with clarity, never quite certain whether he’s gaining perspective, but always searching. “I believe in you like I believe in words,” he pledges. “I believe in God like my dog believes I’m dead ‘til I come home from work.”

Though he calls these philosophical themes “internal mental loops,” playfulness is inherent to Morimoto’s music. “Woof” takes a sardonic glance at emotional growth–“I’m too tired for pretending to be happy, now I’m crying so loud my dog is barking at me,” goes one hook–and pairs it with bright, solo Harrison-esque guitars, nervously pacing Wurlitzer, and a heavy kick. He delights in finding chords that excite him, then layers them with rhythmic shifts, unexpected harmonies, 8-bit arpeggios, and rapidly-gliding saxophone leads. While his production sounds vast and rich–with a level of detail akin to Jon Brion productions–Morimoto works with a simple selection of equipment, relying heavily on the taped up Nord Electro he found used as a teenager. Skittering drums are programmed on an MPC, or tracked live in the practice space he shares with a dozen punk bands, later chopped for beats. His vocal layers alone frequently hit the double digits, resulting in warm, tight harmonies or omnidirectional, spacy presences, as on the modulating, delicately concocted “Jupiter” (where boys go to get more stupider, as alluded to in the sly wink of a chorus.)

Morimoto wrote, arranged and performed the instrumentals alone, but he took every chance to highlight some of his favorite local musicians with guest vocals. Apart from Tokyo-based electropop artist AAAMYYY (who opened for Morimoto on a Japanese tour, and features amid the buzzy, futuristic funk of “Deep Down”), all other credits are Chicago-based–frequent collaborator KAINA, indie favorite Lala Lala, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, rappers Qari and Joseph Chilliams, and, of course, Nnamdï. This roster is a tribute to the place Morimoto now misses when he tours, and the scene to which he’s grateful for pushing him into music full time. “A huge part of being able to do what I do has been learning and growing in Chicago, and these are all the people I did that with over the past four or five years,” Morimoto offers. While this album investigates the murky line between lifelike illusion and fantastical reality, he’s more certain than ever of his friends: “It would be weird to not have them around.”

Your House