Kahn Morbee. Picture: Chashish
Kahn Morbee. Picture: Chashish

Kahn Morbee’s new album 'A World at Suicide' is a journey through a world in chaos

By Liam Karabo Joyce Time of article published Oct 17, 2021

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Known as the lead singer of the award-winning indie rock band, The Parlotones, Kahn Morbee needs no introduction.

The musician has released multiple albums with his former band, been a judge on The Voice South Africa and created a solo career.

Now the star has released his third solo album, “A World at Suicide”.

“The album was actually ready in March 2020, so the plan was to release and tour it in June/July 2020 and then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and I decided to park the album.

“While ’parking’ the album, and with time on my hands, I began to tinker: add parts and subtract parts.

“While ’fiddling’ I realised that the album lacked a cohesive thread, something that glued it all together so that the listener would know that there was a certain 'something' that gave the songs a collective personality,” said Morbee.

Like many other artists, there was no one thing that inspired this new album. In fact, Morbee finds it very difficult to isolate inspiration. For him, creating and recording are like oxygen.

“I’m not inspired to breathe, it’s automatic and necessary for my survival. I guess oxygen as a metaphor is a stretch because I wouldn’t die if I couldn’t create, but the meaning of life would be relegated to mere existence rather than one of purpose.

“I guess I’m inspired that I innately have the tools to create something out of nothing and still derive immense joy from the process. If inspiration is framed as subject matter then it’s always about the human journey, experiential and observational,” he said.

Morbee described “A World at Suicide” as a melancholic stroll through sunflowers, fraught with ups and downs, much like the hero’s journey.

“You arrive at the end of the rainbow only to confirm what you already knew, there is no pot of gold.

“You look back through the field of now dishevelled sunflowers and acknowledge (literally and figuratively) that it was no bed of roses, but it was one helluva gratifying ride,” said the singer.

The first single off the album, All the Beauty, is one that was changed to reflect the current times.

“The opening lines of this song was changed to reflect the Covid context that caused me delaying the release of the album.

“There’s a scarecrow standing in the middle of the street (a metaphor for Covid-19) everyone’s playing hide-and-seek (lockdown) …every day seems exactly the same (extended lockdown).

“The gist of the song is accepting that life is a series of ups and downs and despite the numerous hurdles we face, the experience of life itself is a beautiful one,” added Morbee.

Describing the sound of the album, Morbee said: “A Beatles vinyl left on top of a Fleetwood Mac vinyl left on top of a R.E.M vinyl left in the boot of 1970’s split-window VW kombi.

“There’s an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a vintage mic and a trashy vocoder on the back seat.

“A fire burns it all and out pops a slightly warped BASF cassette tape that assimilated all of the above and tried (in vain) to imitate it but instead created something that feels familiar through a different lens.”

Along with every other artist, the Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge for Morbee.

He had completed the album before the pandemic hit and shelved it when he realised he wasn’t going to be able to tour and promote it.

“As a cynical optimist, I like reframing contexts – there are no challenges only additional ingredients or extra fuel to add to the project … and the life of the project. The vision is nearly almost always reshaped, you learn to embrace its new form and run with it.”

The name of this album is not what it seems and had a much deeper meaning for Morbee.

According to him, the world has always oscillated between chaos and relative calm.

Morbee said every generation experiences what seems to be the end of times and it’s generally in these times of chaos that humans feel intent on self-destruction – humans are either killing each other or the place they inhabit.

“The line is ultimately an idealistic hippy-like antidote because it goes like this: When a world’s at suicide you gotta be kind … When societies and individuals are stretched we sometimes lose sight of kindness and perspective.

“If we approached every situation, even conflict and confrontation, then perhaps the world may seem a little less noisy. Kindness should most probably start with being kinder to ourselves and, hopefully, this will ripple outwards,” he said.

Morbee hopes people listen to the album and realise that life is a journey.

“Life is tough, it will knock you down, several times and again, and again, there is no plateau or utopia, but every minute of that journey is worth it and be grateful that in this vastly expanding universe you and your bag of atoms got to experience it.”

“A World at Suicide” and “Life in a Bubble” are his favourite tracks off the album because lyrically they represent his sentiment that we too often subjugate our true identities and curious pursuit of knowledge to perceived authority.

“Authority comes in many shapes: politicians, money, commerce, ideology, philosophy.

“We accept the badge instead of seeking the truth behind the badge. Possibly out of fear, comfort, or lack of knowledge. I don’t know the answers, but I know the incorrect answer is: politicians and acceptance without questioning.”

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