Sweeping, cinematic, vibrant, beautiful, epic, delicate, bold, calm, majestic. It’s pretty easy to roll off a list of adjectives for this absolutely wonderful record as Rhian Sheehan returns with the impossibly beautiful and uncompromisingly compelling Stories from Elsewhere. Continue reading
Poppy Ackroyd has had a busy year it would seem. Many will know her as the talented violinist and pianist of the Hidden Orchestra whose superb second album launched in September to a positive review from us, however there appears to be a lot more to her than that. The classically trained Edinburgh based musician is now close to the release of her debut solo effort Escapement (due December 2012). A heartbreakingly beautiful record of intricate and very delicate compositions made exclusively, bar the odd field recording here and there, using the piano and the violin. It’s a wonderful idea and is executed to perfection to the point if you weren’t aware this was the case you probably wouldn’t question it. Continue reading
Like Nightwalks before it, Archipelago is a triumphant body of work with rich and detailed production, soaring instrumentation and a staunch visual identity complimenting it’s predecessor and reaffirming Joe Acheson as a master of his craft. Straddling jazz, electronic, ambient, hip-hop and classical as before, It’s also a considerably more varied effort with tracks that shake off the darker claustrophobic atmosphere of Nightwalks and open up to a wider, reenergised and genuinely further refined record.
Overture confidently opens the album with cuts from the rest of the record making fleeting appearances and building into a full track before debut single Spoken brings it down and starts all over again. It is an incredibly evocative piece with field recordings from the Outer Hebrides complimenting the record sleeves beautiful etched visuals. It’s this level of thoughtfulness that separate the Hidden Orchestra from their peers. The tracks run like the tides, building up and receding gracefully with layer upon layer being introduced and creating a bold tension; the dual drum kits playing off each other, teasing and coaxing the music forward. It’s brilliantly clever stuff and a pleasure to listen to, this isn’t a record to be relegated to background music but one to take the time to learn its nuances and be utterly absorbed by.
It’s varied throughout with other double AA single Vorka being positively playful and contrasting with tracks such as Reminder which have distinctly darker tones before straying close to a sound reminiscent of ex label mate Bonobo on Seven Hunters. It’s also worth mentioning Archipelago is overflowing with guest talent. Czech musician/composer Floex joins cellist Su-a Lee, Mary MacMaster and Phil Cardwell who accompany core members Joe Acheson, Poppy Graham, Tim Lane and Jamie Graham. Each bring their own element to Archipelago and sound perfectly suited.
On its own Archipelago is an absolutely fantastic record. Executed with both skillful musicianship and talented song writing it is without a doubt one of the more beautiful, poetic and downright cinematic albums you will hear this year; however taken as a companion to Nightwalks it really shines as one of the most focused and exciting records on the UK music scene. You could accuse the Hidden Orchestra of staying a little too true to their template but think of the considered evolution of their sound combined with Joe Achesons overall vision for Hidden Orchestra and it brings the tantalising imagery of the greatest trilogies of our culture to mind. Let’s hope this is the Hidden Orchestras Empire Strikes Back and not the Godfather Part II (we all know where that trilogy went after that).
“Grand and transcendent… the layers of beautiful sound, homage to Japanese culture, and use of violin make 151a a dreamy, pocket-sized symphony, perfect for anyone needing a lift.”
This artist has jumped to the top of my ‘most played’ this summer. Kishi Bashi, aka K Ishibashi is a solo artist who has toured with the likes of Of Montreal, and is also a founder of the NY indie rock band, Jupiter One. Now going solo, K Ishibashi has produced something fresh, new and wonderfully weird. From listening to the first intro track on his debt album, 151a, you wouldn’t expect what would follow.
It’s electronic, folky, classical – a tornado of musical goodness that’s entertaining from the beginning to end. Drawing from his classical routes as a violinist, K Ishibashi conjures a melody of genres, which I can only compare to an artist such as Animal Collective. He mixes up English and Japanese in his lyrics, which add to the sometimes manic feel to the songs. The transition from each track to the next leaves you wanting more of his feel-good musical world he creates.
The birth of this album was conceived through a Kickstarter campaign – a site where entrepreneurs, filmmakers, musicians etc pitch their project and rely on the support of the public to donate money to fund it. Ishibashi’s target was $12,000, and within three weeks he raised $20,000, an impressive achievement, and one that paid off. Since the album’s release in April, Ishibashi has been impressing critics and the public with his live loop-based performances.
“The way I create my loops, I just kind of — they’re not exact. So a lot of it has to do with a feeling and it might be faster, I also like changing things up, so I’ll change things and kind of make it different, and I also like the audience to have a different experience.”
KISHI BASHI – RIVERFRONT TIMES
The album is diverse and unexpected. It paints a picture of both joy and melancholy, and it leaves you feeling great. Ishibashi is currently on tour around the US, and is yet to pencil in anything for Europe. You can get your hands on his album here.
Update: The debut single from Archipelago has since been debuted on www.thelineofbestfit.com. It’s an upbeat and slightly more playful sound for the Hidden Orchestra yet retains the sweeping cinematic feel of their debut and live shows. The single is officially out in September, in the mean time have a listen on Soundcloud.
Sadly there are no audio samples as yet. In the mean time check out Footsteps from the debut Nightwalks. Hidden Orchestra’s sound can be described as a sweeping,emotional and incredibly cinematic experience with strong jazz and classical influences layer with organic sampling.
On a side note, I’m particularly fond of the continuity between artwork which comes courtesy of Norman Ackroyd.