Saturday, 17 October 2009

Longing For Orpheus - OtherSong

Read review at Morpheus

Relaxing new age and chilled melodic instrumentals. OtherSong has a lush serenity about it that increasingly absorbs the listener as the album unfolds - laid back beats combining programmed grooves and acoustic enhancements propelling dreamy melodies. The mellow themes are primarily of well selected synthetic sound, multi-layered lines buoyed upon smooth pads with additional multi-national samples sensitively entwined. Pianos, flutes, harp, erhu and pipa along with other exotic instruments constantly grab the attention and keep the colours bright and strong. Ethnic drums such as djeme, bodhran and shakers are employed to bring emphatic levels to the beats, the occasional electronic glitch and subtle sequencer pattern adding further depth.

For the most part the mood here is one of optimistic tranquillity - even when the tempos lift somewhat, the hypnotic nature of the music remains. The album explores a range of genres from the balearic slant of EverSoul through the more overtly worldbeat NeverTale and UmbraStory to the progressive electronic ForestWake. That said - the listener would likely not spot any obvious shift in style since the whole package has a strong unifying identity that runs throughout the whole album.

OtherSong comes in a jewelcase with single sheet insert. The limited palette of liquid blue and lilac creates a tasteful front cover - smooth sky and sharp blossom with simple title font. The rear cover presents a similar sky, this time with faint puffs of white cloud, bright copper leaves in foreground. The tracklist runs down the right side. Flipping the insert over; the thematic content is maintained with more vivid flora alongside a second tracklist. Here too are brief credits and website details with a suggestion that album notes can be found at the artist's site.

Longing For Orpheus is the solo project of classically trained US musician Derek Smootz. With its origin back in 2003, the project experimented with music influenced by the likes of Enigma and Vangelis. A debut album was released in 2006 entitled Skye making OtherSong the second full length CD currently on offer. According to the official website Derek is also involved in various side projects such as Artificial Emotion (dance-oriented) and Ice Queen Alias (synthpop). He performs with various choirs and theatres in the Austin area, and maintains the "After Enigma" online guide to Nu Ambient music. The new album can be heard at the Longing For Orpheus website.

This is music for forgetting your cares and enjoying the moment. OtherSong has that fairytale dreaminess found in Amethystium and will likely appeal to fans of enigmatic music. Well suited as background sound - but a joy to experience on headphones too.


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