OrageOrange ~ Last Year’s Bloom

Shimmering Moods’ next package deal will be released this Friday ~ five CDs for €41 or five digital albums for €25.  The Amsterdam label is generous in bundles and rich in music.  Today we highlight a slightly earlier release from OrageOrange, whose music seems tailor-made for the bridge between summer and fall.  While there’s still plenty of summer left for some, college students have already begun to disappear, their summers prematurely over.  

The album’s prime selling point is its chameleon-like nature.  While primarily ambient, Theo Monnington’s project also touches on folk (the acoustic guitar and washboard of “New Summer Marmalade”) and modern composition (the violin and viola tracks, graced by Ellie Pensom).  “Antillean Interlude” adds glockenspiel for an extra sharpness; the instrument will resurface mid-set and again on album highlight “Footfalls,” embedded in a nearly post-rock setting.  But no matter how often the sub-genres change, the mood remains the same: gentle gratitude, sparked by natural wonder.

The heart of the album inhabits the bluer hours, with five titles referencing the moon, dusk and night.  Pensom’s strings are particularly poignant on “Nocturnum,” as Monnington balances the mood with keys.  There’s nothing dark about this segment of the moon’s journey; the overnight hours simply provide a different type of illumination.  Nestled in the middle of these tracks is a curiosity: “Port Nemo,” which refers to the remotest place on earth, yet projects an unexpected warmth.  The connecting idea seems to be that no matter how far away the sun, or other people, the potential for quiet awe remains.

Once night has passed, the timbre lifts.  “Vitesse” (referring to the speed of light) lies between the album’s most abstract offerings, “Hirondelle Dusk”  and “Apricot Blossom,” setting the stage for the aforementioned “Footfalls.”  The notes fall swiftly, like petals or days, the percussion leaping to the fore along with a smidgen of brass.  “Unpromised” provides a reminder that while days may pass slowly, seasons move quickly, slipping out the door when our backs are turned.  We are already talking about Last Year’s Bloom.  But as Henry Monnington’s cover art implies, when the seasons change, the world is only shifting from one type of beauty to another.  (Richard Allen)

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