After releasing four singles and a live EP in the last four years, Orlando’s Answers is stepping out in a big way with A New Path to Touch the Earth. The most obvious thing to mention is that they don’t sound like a Disney World ensemble. The least obvious thing to mention is that they represent multiple genres. At the start of this EP, they come across as an accomplished modern composition quintet. But by the end of the second track, one might start to think of them as prog; and by the end of the third, jazz. This makes them remarkably fluid, but difficult to categorize, which is likely the preference of composer Brandon Miller, who also plays electric bass and electronics. The snippet of what could be a stage play in the closing piece also tilts them in an experimental direction.
This being said, “If They Follow Their Heroes” tips its hat to post-rock, its timbres reminiscent of sister hybrid band Rachel’s. Their rock underpinning is provided by electric guitar, their classical flavors by violin, oboe and English horn; but when the vibraphone kicks in, the entire ensemble gels. Each performer has their place in the sun; at this time in their career, the members of the quintet have learned how to give each other space, as they each trust their time will come. A late turn on bass kicks the track into a groove segment, around which the others seem to improvise.
The bass line stretches into the second segment of the triptych, holding on just long enough for the connective glue to harden. After this, the sounds grow ever more abstract, even speculative. One wonders if these “Children of the Flowers” are wandering in a poppy field, swaying without falling down. That is, until the shift at 3:11, the number a symbol of “fulfillment, happiness and growth,” just what one might expect from the era. The nods to prog make the listening experience seem surreal. After this, anything can happen; and it does.
The title “To Make It Seem Like I Am Brimming with Unforeseen Expectation” takes its lead from post-rock, but the timbre is experimental chamber. Brass and vibraphone engage in a light call-and-response, followed by increasingly frantic scales, then a dip in tempo. Spoken words land in this valley, the first recitation straightforward, the others jumbled in order and inflection. These twelve words offer a mirror of the music: the same ingredients in different increments, the end results surprisingly refreshing. (Richard Allen)
I hear Rachel’s for sure, but even more: Oregon.