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Well, whatever else 'Passion' from Orchid Star is, it's quite clearly a dance oriented workout. Pete Ardron's Orchid Star puts 'world' into contemporary dance music and take things to an altogether different level.
Taken from Orchid Star's forthcoming debut album 'Birth', 'Passion' sees the coming together of bang-up-to-date electronic music and ethnic rhythms and world vibes - to great effect. Within its genre 'Passion', in all its eight mixes as given here, is quite heavenly and, it has to be said, like a breath of fresh air in an all too often stale music idiom; it cleverly and very successfully combines rhythms and instrumental sounds and nuances from all over the globe, many in the form of what now seems to be referred to as 'live' instruments, the rest made up from sounds from the digital age. It works extremely well!!
Although the over-used term 'dance' has tended to become a very far reaching and all-encompassing descriptive, Orchid Star have brought a glorious and majestic sense of 'oneworldness' to the genre through the introduction of such an array of stunning ethnic, tribal and generally eclectic influences. And, the proud and often guarded 'keepers' of those influences would surely be equally impressed and suitably entertained by what Orchid Star have done here.
'Passion' by Orchid Star is seriously good - probably one of the most unusual and classy sorties into the deepest realms and darkest corners of the modern electronically biased dance idiom that I've ever heard. If 'Passion' is typical, Orchid Star's debut album, 'Birth', thoroughly deserves to achieve success. Excellent!!
Toxic Pete, '07
A treat on the World Music stage was Pete Ardron's Orchid-Star, a pre-Glastonbury performance from this wonderful and diverse band.
Eli Saikadeli, Kingston Green Fair, '05
(review of our MySpace)
these lovely people got in touch with us a day or three ago having spotted us on Banco de Gaia’s friend list. We listened with baited breath hoping for similar sounds to shroud us in all their glory and mystery - and lets just say boy we were not disappointed. Lets just start out by saying that these tunes are something else. This London based DJ / mood weaving / dance / ambient hybrid collective are built around the talents of Pete Ardron and are the proud parents of a recently released debut full length ‘birth’ which comes replete with an additional disc of exclusive mixes by the likes of Youth, Tripswitch and Subsonar. The sounds are succulent and vivid, from the divine to the enchanting orchid star it seems have covered all bases that encompasses everything from super chilled amorphous electronics, down tempo, lounge, dub, soft psyche and panoramic ambience. Reference wise they feed from the dance cultures - reference wise think mid 90’s era Biosphere, early career Future Sound of London, Transglobal Underground (check out ‘passion’), Bill Laswell, Orbital, Apollo 440 and a loosened up Ozric Tentacles. The set opens with the frankly magnificent ‘wildflower’ - a gorgeously lysergically twinkling lunatic operetta, enchanting and ethereal its pulses and purrs lost in its snow globed nether world delicately wrapped in caressing folds of Debussy florets sugar tipped with noire-esque accents sourced from the early 90’s Bristol scene and yet deliciously scored with a beckoning majesty that finds itself windswept and carefree snaking like some bewitching invisible force across Brontean landscaped plateaus that for the best part call to mind Heather Duby relocated to the lush lovelorn pastures of Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love’. The sultry and hypnotically transcendental mantra ‘passion’ with its delirious arabesque dialects is a swirling snake charming slice of desire laden mysticism longingly etched with Natasha Atlas like vocal visitations weaving amid arid eddies and terra forming horizons. ‘deep down’ is similarly tweaked though this time into a decidedly more loosely funky and dislocated ethnic beast with an succulent Australasian slant, this smoking babe encompasses arresting elements of early 70’s lounge / late 70’s white funk and mind warping sitar signatures into its delectably luxurious montage - best filed next to Edwin Moses. ‘mouse’ rounds up the set a lilting cosmically grooved slice of flirty dream pop bathed in sheens of smoked jazz sophistication and lightly sprinkled with flighty pirouettes of bachelor pad dimpled 60’s styled French pop amour smoothness a la Free Design and sumptuously cast amid swirling mirror balls of spectral string arrangements. Very very classy.
This release really came out of nowhere. I had heard nothing from Liquid Sound Design after the name change (to Liquid Sound that doesn’t sound anywhere near as good so I won’t use) and the last compilation Illuminations, which to be honest was a bit of a disappointment. That was the one and only disappointment on a label that brought us great compilations like Butterfly Dawn, amazing artist albums like Tripswitch – Circuit Breaker & concepts so sublime like The Kumba Mela Experiment – East of the River Ganges. So although I had never heard of Orchid Star it was impossible not to be curious. The fact that this debut album from Orchid Star is a double CD including their album & a remix CD (same journey, different perspective). Seeing as the remix CD includes remixes by Kuba, Youth & even Tripswitch this was in my opinion & must buy.
Putting it in my CD player I was more than impressed by the end of the 1st CD & completely blown away by the end of the 2nd one. So many instruments from Glockenspiel to Violins & a range of vocalists, fantastic production & sounds that will really draw in the listener. I put it on my mp3 player & went out with it, it went perfectly with the emergence or spring here & when both CDs had finished I just had to start them over again. It’s very summery music, exactly the style & quality I was hoping for & I know that this is going to get a lot of play time come summer
1. Deep Down
My initial feeling when I first heard this song was “I’ve heard that vocal somewhere before” and I was understandably worried that this could be a retrodden sample ridden album like that of numerous psychill acts these days. But fear not this is not your average take a sample slap it on top of some dub crap, this actually a well made track with what I first thought was the sample (I still can’t place where I’ve heard it before) being an expertly placed and built around vocal from Myo. Marimba, glockenspiel & guitar all add a very natural touch as does the conga beat & tasty little bassline. A nice ethnic track without going overboard & becoming cheesy.
Seamless from the last track with same vocalist singing a jazzier tune. The beats are like a natural sounding breakbeat & what sounds like a vocal drone in the background really adds an atmosphere that makes it easy to float away & when the goblet drum comes in it’s absolutely mind blowing. Substance free I feel my brain hazing over at times listening to this. Under everything a tight bassline adds to the energy of it all. Very summery
A different vocalist in this one. The deep sexy voice of Samanta Ray really fits the title passion. A more ethnic beat this time with nice jingly undertones. The softer tones feel almost vocal as well but like those of something ethereal coming over on a sea breeze. This whole track puts me on to a beach somewhere with a clear blue sea, sun beating down on me & without a care in the world. Just me and my lady enjoying the peace of summer far away from civilisation. A very nice bass carries more energy into the track making me want to move & dance with her. A nicely arranged track ebbs & flows throughout it’s nearly 10 minute length & stays encapsulating throughout. Beautiful.
A very oriental sounding start with a nice modern touch with the bassline. It’s all like a little classical story, with the little short notes sounding like characters interacting & playing out a role. When the vocal comes in it’s a long soft wail of a vocal, managing to sound like a wind goddess blowing through the forest. The violin & the wind synth almost sound like they are conversing together at times only to be broken up by the celestial vocal which must be awe inspiring all in it’s presence. A very descriptive track, I can almost see the butterfly riding the wind like voice through the forest, over rivers, past the characters, through their conversation & up through the trees into the busy sky where there are thousands of the little winged pieces of art.
A twisted ethnic sample that sounds like it is going backwards really sets a more sombre atmosphere and the slower flatter beat adds to that feeling. As the beat becomes more involved though it picks up a bit more energy feels as if it’s rising into the sky. From the start I’m put in mind of a soul leaving it’s prison & being set free. At first it’s sad to have finished one step of it’s journey but as it feels itself rising it picks up more joy & when it gets high enough it is greeted by a choir of voices welcoming it to a place of beauty and sheer joy. This is a really really good track, the progression is amazing & really manages to paint a story for me. Building up towards the end of the track with sounds & melody coming from all around in a crescendo light warm music.
6. The Heart of Ibu-At
I get a feeling of a lost city deep in the jungle. People untouched by modern thinking at peace with the natural world around them. Humans & animals in a harmonious mix. The melody is quite simple but very striking. It hits sharply & gets under the skin and under the brain. The flute adds a mystical feel where as the violins add a very serene atmosphere. A very busy but peaceful track that is yet again perfect for summer out in the greens it gets deeper like encroaching clouds right before the end.
7. A Day Out Of Time
This darker feeling leads into this track which has a deep dark drone & rushing synths that sound like water in the air. The breakbeats kick in like a summer storm and the melody & vocals fall down with the downpour. All the sounds kind of swirl around nicely with a bassline pushing them forward as the beat spins them continuously round & round. Halfway in the track takes a whole new direction seemingly going up with a lot of energy, the feeling of rain has been left far behind as we race towards the sun & towards a party on the beach. Reaching the beach is like landing in the middle of an old school tie beach party when the jungle came on. Really nice bright melodies never get cheesy but just sound really happy. As the beats stop I find myself at peace, stunning track.
A slower but heavy beat with a heavy bass & glockenspiel melody all sounds good & the vocal while a little on the cheesy side is a pleasant one that manages to bring a smile to my face when I hear it. The heavy piano cords & violin add a real feeling of some old tale told to kids long ago to send them to sleep with a happy heart and sweet dreams. A nice colourful end to the journey culminating in a brilliant melody full of heart & a bassline full of soul.
Not that many albums at this tempo manage to be quite as descriptive as this. Liquid Sound Design though seems to have a knack of finding artists that can fit the storytelling ambience into a more uptempo groove that fits anywhere & anytime. I can listen to this out in the sun, in bed first thing in the morning, at the beach, on the train, at work, at home, in a restaurant & it always fits my mood. It can really be focused on & take you on a journey or be played as party music with friends. Quite a versatile album to say the least & it always brings a big smile to my face.
1. Deep Down (Kuba Remix)
Crisper beats with a slightly more reggae feel than the original. Somehow manages to sound even more like a summer day. The bassline is a body mover & the extra little sounds both melodious & scratchy just make it a little funkier but slightly less involved & dreamy than the original. Another set of vocals doesn’t fit quite so well but still leaves this as a very enjoyable remix.
2. Mouse (Youth Remix)
This remix is more fluttery. The sounds around the original are very slick and they slip & slid all over the track like water over stepping stones. The bassline is a little deeper & sharper at the start of each cord. The beat sounds more regualr breakbeat than the natural sounds of the original & the electric guitar (?) at the end adds a glitchy feel.
3. Passion (Youth Remix)
All the elements are the same but the structure is a little more regular & a little less ambient. The story element is gone but the same feeling is still there, like looking at a picture of the story but without it moving. Once again the vocals are beautiful but they are a little more reserved in this version. Still very sultry though and while this is not quite as good as the original is pretty nice.
4. Butterflies (Youth Remix)
The oriental feel is played down & there is a scratchier feeling to it at the beginning. More descriptive of the butterflies than of the forest. I can see the little things flapping about in front of me in a more erratic pattern. Slower & darker than the original not quite as good but different is good with a remix.
5. Khambhat (Youth Remix)
The same sombre feeling as the original but a glitchier beat, in a more random IDM style, grounds the soul rather than letting it fly as before. The soul instead of rising high into the sky instead moves effortlessly along the ground but is still met by the choir & welcomed into the beautiful peaceful place. The welcome is less vigorous but just as rapturous as before. A similar progression to before as well with the sombre feeling being cast aside for a more upbeat and happy ending.
6. The Heart of Ibu-At (Tripswitch Remix)
This remix is so much better than the original & I quite liked the original track. This is deeper & focuses more on the piano at the start. The clear melody is a melancholic one & sounds so beautiful that I don’t want it to end. The voices coming in are small and imp like and the new melody chimes away double edged beauty. The strings can be heard more clearly & have a distinct purpose and the bassline moves the body while the rest touches the mind. Just close your eyes & let the music take you deep into the jungle tribe’s village during a celebration of summer. When the techy bassline comes in, it seems to thrust the tribe into the 3rd millennium & the oscillating synth manages to sound space aged while still fitting in with the original tribal feel, like the tribe is used to spaceships & aliens & is regularly visited by them. I am so looking forward to Tripswitch releasing a new album in the future as all his compilation tracks & this remix are even better than his amazing album Circuit Breaker.
7. A Day Out Of Time (Subsonar Remix)
No dark feeling at the start of this one, no rushing wind or rain spinning the music around just straight out sunny beach music. Break downs and kicking back in beats all remind me as the original did of a Thai beach party but this seems later in the evening as the day of chilled dance draws to a close & there is a little bit even calmer music before the stomping trance begins. It’s a really nice continuation from the end of the original track. Beautiful melodies seem to fall out of the sky towards the end before the synths give another slightly sci-fi feel. I’m left wondering what happened to Subsonar’s album that was announced some years ago but never seemed to materialise.
8. Wildflower (Pete Ardon Remix)
A deeper drone in the background and softer beats make way for more prominent vocals this time chopped up & splattered into the track. This manages to make it sound less cheesy while still retaining the ability to make me smile. A more relaxed end to this journey from a different perspective, the beauty is still there as is the heart & soul but it’s harder to find and needs more attention than the original. Quite different & in the end an excellent remix.
So in the end the remix CD is a great bonus but not as good as the original album. Surprisingly it’s Youth’s remixes that don’t sound as good as the originals with the last three tracks just as good or better (Tripswitch).
If you have ever been a fan of Liquid Sound Design’s sound then you will definitely want to check this out. It’s a great journey into an ethnic wonderland without treading over old ground. It’s got everything that made me fall in love with the label in the first place but all still sounds fresh & interesting. Any fan of summery downtempo should also look into getting this stunning album.
Copyright © 2008 Joseph Abasio
review of Passion single, '08
with that blend of the eastern and effects that make it sound like the soundtrack to the Arabian Nights in Space. Size of a cow!!