Morr Music, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/13/2012
The pairing of Benoit Pioulard and Rafael Anton Irisarri (of Sight Below fame) might not on paper seem like a logical choice. With Pioulard’s history penning hazy pop songs and Irisarri’s affinity for post-minimalist songcraft, one might not think the two together could produce anything but disjointed noise. However, when you consider the vast skill the two bring to the table, it becomes more apparent that the duo are capable of a genre-blending endeavor of unparalleled greatness.
Taking two separate styles, influences and minds that act together as one cohesive vehicle, Orcas matches universal pop hooks with abstract, ambient and avant-garde wandering. Though the disc starts out with a more jagged feel, it quickly moved into a smoother approach, putting a lot of stock in sparse piano work and gentle looping that is both cryptic and soothing.
Though the entire disc takes on a twilight-esque backdrop of gloom, tracks like “Arrow Drawn” are especially moody, and the disc reaches perhaps its most soaring point on “Standard Error.” Album highlight “Until Then” is a dark arrangement with electronic noise that moves with an ethereal and mesmerizing pace, almost hypnotic with its wall of noise-meets-soft keys. The album opener “Pallor Cedes” foreshadows what’s in store for the entire disc, Pioulard’s breathy voice repeating itself in almost eerie fashion, with the nearly meditative instrumentation being the perfect starting point for Orcas.
A truly unique collection of different sounds and textures, this is very fragile music, the sort of collection that leaves you in awe at the duo’s ability to reel you in with songs that exist at a faint pulse at best, nearly drifting away in perennial darkness. An outfit who came together after the death of Broadcast front man Trish Keenen last year, Orcas poke and prod around so many dynamic minimalist areas with such calculated precision, it’s an unimaginably accomplished memorial for their friend.
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