A dream-touched record, Orient‘s music continues to linger long after the Eastern-flavored tones have faded. An unexpected confusion of static opens the record, but a flowing drone soon straightens everything out, ebbing and flowing with its mystical practices and ancient atmospheres.
Orient both trembles and echoes. The dreamy notes are always falling, like a loose scattering of cherry blossom dispersed by April winds. The general sound is not only lush but free-flowing, watery, with the reverb-soaked notes emanating as if from a peaceful Japanese water garden.
‘Arpon”s tranquil sounds are laced with a wet reverb, and the air is scented with a mysterious and delicate melody. Strings are plucked with love and abandon, creating music that’s ripe for a dreamy fairy-tale or fit for the courts of an ancient king. It emanates as if from a shrine, a temple, and could be music for a sacred deity with its pristine notes offering a sweet incense for purification.
Alex Smalley has been diving into beautiful textures for years, and his experience has led him to a deeper understanding of the music. Orient is more of a diverse album in that it exhales a misty exoticism. What was once a far-away land now becomes an immediate and accessible region which is nevertheless still masked in heightened levels of mystery. There is a wonderful grace to everything, though. Like T’ai Chi, the music is a flowing thing, leaning back in yin and pushing forward in yang, its repetitious movements injecting a deeper state of tranquility into the body of the music while appearing to all outsiders as an elegant, slow and smooth-looking art. All of the work – the sweat, the pummeling of the muscles and the rapid circulation of the blood – is largely unseen to onlookers, instead occurring inside the body and inside the music. The music’s heart constantly swells and subsides.
The muted, two-toned drones of “Lieal-Aest” reach further than anything else, a gentle hand form caressing the air, allied with a steady respiration. Breathing in, breathing out, palm up, palm down – everything is in balance, ambient in thought, ambient in movement. Orient is a swirling and peaceful record. The meditation flows and yet is paradoxically still, and its slightly introverted nature is able to find some kind of solace in its quiet existence, able to at last lie in repose. (James Catchpole)