Selfless Orchestra ~ Great Barrier

The 2020 news cycle has been dominated by politics, protests and the pandemic, to the extent that we’ve almost forgotten about all the other important issues.  For example, the Great Barrier Reef is badly in need of protection, ravaged by corporations who tout one set of ideals on their home page while defying it in practice.  I was drawn to this news story by the title, “Beyond All Illusion Part I (Fuck Adani),” and asked the obvious question:  “Who’s Adani?”

Perth’s ten-strong Selfless Orchestra is as mad at Adani as they are supportive of a natural resource.  The brief “The Luxury of Doing Nothing Very Much At All” is advertisement and indictment; the sampled commercial promotes the reef (including stepping on it, which is not environmentally sound), but the title also implies that in the face of injustice or impropriety, we have the selfish luxury of doing nothing.  These post-rockers are all in, with expansive AV performances underlining the importance of the reef and a portion of proceeds benefiting those who seek to preserve it.

The massive sound of post-rock plus the Perth Symphony Orchestra is boosted by wordless “Great Gig In the Sky” vocals.  This latter addition nudges the album toward prog, broadening its appeal.  Even without seeing them, one can image the widescreen imagery.  Peaceful lulls (“False Bodies Part I”) are offset by some symphonic rockers (“Beyond All Illusion Part I”), leading to a satisfying (although somewhat obvious) bout of whalesong and the cathartic ten-minute “Eden Is Lost” ~ the first track to have been made public, but the last to appear on the album.  The sequencing leads to a curious question: is the band’s attitude optimistic or pessimistic?  The music declares the former, while the titles support the latter.  Still, the art conveys a sense of harmony.  We may be worn out by the pummeling of the news cycle, but this is one issue we can all get behind.  (Richard Allen)

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