Hidden Orchestra supported by Floex @ Scala, North London on 20.11.2013
A few months ago I “discovered” Hidden Orchestra after a recommendation from a friend, and I was amazed by the scope and energy behind the music. Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland, the group create music which features skilful blending of nu-jazz, hip-hop, classical and electronica. Finding out they were touring Britain, I had to attend one of their shows to find out how they performed their music live, so I took the plunge.
I discovered they were being supported by Floex, a group which had flown under my radar but after a bit of digging I discovered Tomáš Dvořák- the Czech composer of the wonderful Machinarium soundtrack - was at the helm, which gave me high hopes for the performance. The set began with otherworldly percussion and ambient textures which reminded me a lot of the Machinarium soundtrack, and witnessing Dvořák's music performed added a whole new element to the experience. During the performance various instruments were played, sampled and mangled through Dvořák ‘s Akai MPD 32, Which was highly entertaining. The musician also performed on an electric xylophone-esque device while his band featured live percussion, various wind instruments including a wind-controlled MIDI controller and emotive vocals. The set was backed up by enchanting visuals, which changed to reflect the theme of the songs. At one point a piece was performed which was an interpretation of a childhood dream of being hunted by wolves in a forest, which was lovely to experience with the storybook visuals. A highly professional and genuinely humble experience, Floex put on an amazing set and as it was their first in London, I was honoured to take part.
Once Floex had taken their bows the stage was set for Hidden Orchestra, the solo project of Joe Acheson,who composed and produced the band’s material. Live drummers Tim Lane and Jamie Graham had their drum kits set up facing one another and 24 circular screens were revealed from behind a backdrop which were lined up with a projector. The stage featured four cameras which would project and blend with visuals ranging from ripples in water to wavering candle-flames to hypnotic effect, and worked beautifully to provide visual character for the music. The show was described as a Full Live AV Show, which was designed alongside Lumen, a visual artist based in Bristol. I was surprised by how compact the band was, but the sound they made belied their relatively small size. A mixing desk, bass guitar, electric violin, keyboard, two drum kits and the occasional clarinet (provided by Tomáš Dvořák who co-wrote Hushed from Hidden Orchestra’s second album, Archipelago) filled Scala without deafening onlookers, with sonic textures swirling and dancing around the hall, while each musician performed multiple roles. Poppy Ackroyd was capable of morphing her violin into ambient bells and otherworldly plucked sounds, while producer and bassist Joe Acheson would be intermittently tweaking knobs and faders to hone each element of the piece. The two drum-kits provided such a lot of energy and excitement, as each would play off the other and set infectious grooves for the crowd. At times the players would seemingly battle one another in an enchanting game of call-and-response, which, combined with innovative electronic pad work, led to a well-deserved ovation mid-song
The atmosphere in the venue was relaxed and everyone was clearly having a great time. This was a very special night and my adoration of Hidden Orchestra has deepened, now that I’m better able to appreciate the sheer talent of the young men and women behind the project. Having seen Tomáš Dvořák/Floex perform has fueled a hunt for his back catalogue, and a desire to hear more in the future. If you haven’t heard them, get on it now and if they play near you, make it your mission to see them. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s that time of year again. The air is sharp with chill and breath leaves the mouth in clouds of steam. At University, hundreds of thousands of students are busy preparing and creating work which will define their futures and themselves. Whenever I need to knuckle down to some research or writing, my iTunes is steered towards my favourite ambient music, as I find it a perfect accompaniment to deep thought. Textural forms over explicit statements.
During a discussion on ambient music in class a couple of weeks ago I mentioned an album by Future Sound of London of which I had forgotten the name. The album was Lifeforms and in particular, the song Flak stands out for me. It was part of a greater soundtrack that defined my first year at uni, getting on that bus from Wellingborough every day and reading the AB Guide to Music Theory on the way.
As far as Biosphere goes, my favourite album is Substrata, the one which contains Kobresia, the song we listened to in class. However, the song I meant to play was Poa Alpina, perhaps the single most profound piece of “music” I have ever heard.
Not sure if you’ve heard of them but Gas released a fantastic album called Gas 0095 which contained the song Microscopic, an incredible piece of ambient synth work which makes me feel something truly profound every time I listen.
Finally there is Global Communication who released an album titled 76:41, which contains the song 14:31. This is a song which makes me feel emotions I can’t even describe, something close to sadness but more heartfelt.
Not sure if you have the time to listen to these but if you need some time to reflect I urge you to give them a go.
A fantastic documentary exploring the history of the Moog modular synthesiser patented by Dr Robert Arthur (Bob) Moog in 1964. While not a musician, Bob Moog saw the growing need for flexible instruments and the incredible influence synthesised sound would have on music.
Still a wonderful album, after all these years. I think of it as a Summer album, one which blends with the intoxicating haze of the sun. It works well with the chilly Winter mornings too.
I really enjoyed this album, both for the music and the concept. After speaking to the artist his appreciation of bands such as Tera Melos, The Mars Volta andHella began to show through in the music, though there is plenty of individuality in these compositions. Somehow, the lack of human performativity works well with the frantic musings of its math-rock inspirations, as this kind of music definitely has something robotic about it.
Y weighs in at around the ten minute mark which left me wanting more, though there are two more Samuel Organ EPs to dig your teeth into. According to the artist there is an album in the works, in the meantime check out more of his work and everything byThe Physics House Band as there’s a lot to explore and appreciate.
"This album was a great listen for me, as it offers experimentation alongside talented craftsmanship and tight instrumentalism. Sometimes bands try too hard to be “different” and end up producing little more than earache or a mixing disaster. Thankfully Golden Blonde have steered this project in the right direction and I look forward to subsequent releases with more than a little excitement.”
A really interesting album, so glad I found these guys. Check them out and have a blast. ;)
"Overall I really like this debut from Lund Quartet. It’s nicely rhythmic and never offensive in its construction, and the turntable element sets the band apart. In future I personally would like to see slightly more use of the sampled elements (the intro to Kulde is a fantastic example of that) and maybe more fitting use of the theremin – I can hardly spot it on the album but can imagine all manner of exciting possibilities presenting themselves for future experimentation.”
Always nice to find a really talented UK group, especially seeing as they’ll be supporting Jaga Jazzist this October in London! Check out the link for some of Lund Quartet’s music, you’ll be glad you did.
"This band is something of a “supergroup” of artists local to the Portland area, as all three are well known within the locale: Salas-Humara is recognised for various projects including Panther, Grapefruit and The Planet The; While Libman is the man behind electro-pop outfit Copy and Fimbres is better known for the experimental electronica he produces under the name Paper/Upper/Cuts. I hope to hear more from Sun Angle soon and perhaps see them perform if they cross the pond to the UK… Or I find myself with a ticket to the US!”
Check out the link if you want to hear tunes from this weird and wonderful band, another class act from Charlie Salas-Humara.
"I would recommend Grapefruit to anyone with an interest in dreamy electronic music, this is definitely the kind of material you want to melt away in the background while you write essays or do the washing up. And there’s no excuse for not checking it out as all of the material listed is available for free online. Have fun!”
To read the full verdict (and I suggest you do, this stuff is really cool) please click the link through to Emerging Indie Bands.
"This material is worthy of exploration beyond the sum of its parts; in time this collaboration could bear unique and exciting fruit which delves deep into the possibilities of electronic music. In order to do this each artist must continue to produce and define themselves, and in so doing learn their craft."
Please clock the link for the full review of the Cabwash collective, plus music reviews and articles fresh from the UK.
"Within only three tracks HUG manage to define their sound and hark back to the golden age of Tyneside indie rock. If you’re after a slice of well-crafted music with thoughtful lyrics you could do worse than pick up Clay, or any of the back catalogue for that matter.It’s been a pleasure learning about this band and I wish them the very best in whatever they choose to do from now on.”
For the full review please follow onto the link where music from HUG can be found, along with loads of independent music reviews, interviews and more.
Not posted any original material in a while as I’ve been writing for Emerging Indie Bands (formerly Indie Bands Blog) and it occurred to me today that I should really post this content on Tumblr. So here you go, I’ll post them separately and from now on sequentially.
Fuzz - The Sound that Revolutionized the World
Directed by Clif Tayler and featuring Billy Gibbons, Peter Frampton, J Mascis, Jon Spencer and Chris Ross, there’s a lot to enjoy here for fuzz-heads and enthusiasts alike.