Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

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Orchestra of Spheres: Isness
Orchestra of Spheres: Nonagonic Now (Sound Explorers)

This rhythm-driven four-piece from Wellington is one part early Talking Heads (or the Feelies as a jazz ensemble), a slug of Sun Ra if he'd come from South East Asia and not Saturn, some seriously brain-bending guitar work (with one ear on mad Afro-juju as much as bent country jiggery and scattergun free playing), theremin, tape machines, chanty sections and Lord knows what else.

It is an intoxicating brew -- it must be thoroughly enjoyable live -- and their unique sound comes in part from the homemade instruments: biscuit tin guitar and some weird keyboard "bass" thing.

This is improvised music as a piece of elastic, to be stretched and pulled thin, snapped back and coiled around. 

The centrepiece of blips and echoed vocal (Eternal C of Darkness) somewhat kneecaps the forward momentum and not everything is as persuasive or as much fun as tracks like Isness. Their apparent need to put in vocal parts doesn't always work and again intrudes on their considerable instrumental prowess . . . and at their most free (the overlong and shapeless Toadstone) they aren't that engaging.

But it is always an album which keeps you on alert -- I've just listened to it five times back-to-back and am constantly surprised by its changing directions -- and you can't say that about too many discs these days.

It is available from here, and I'm seriously hoping they send me a copy of their debut EP Space Art Music, the title of which sort of sums them up (if anything can).

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