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Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere - Theta Five CD (album) cover


Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere



4.02 | 5 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars I was having a conversation with Martin Archer a while back, and he said I really should be listening to bands on his Discus Music label, and in particular he wanted me to hear Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere. Therefore I am now listening to the fifth album in their 'Theta' sequence, and rather unusual it is too. Firstly we do have a somewhat strange mix of instruments with Martin himself providing saxophones, clarinet, flute, organ, Mellotron, software instruments, and voices and he has been joined by Steve Dinsdale (drums, synths), Lorin Halsall (double bass, electric upright bass, electronics), Yvonna Magda (violin, electronics), Andy Peake (Rhodes, synths), Walt Shaw (percussion, electronics), Jan Todd (vocals, voices, lyrics, harps, electronics, laptop, MIDI keyboards, bowed acoustic bass, glockenspiel, 12-string guitar, Korg wave drum, Idiopan) and Terry Todd (electric bass, acoustic 12-string guitar).

The result is music, which was improvised over a two-day recording period, and then reworked and rearranged with additional composed and vocal elements added, which in many ways reminds me of some of the albums by Robin Taylor with Taylor's Free Universe. Musically it is taking RIO, Zeuhl, jazz and modern classical, and throwing it all into a melting pot and seeing what comes out the other side. It is complex and complicated, and the combination of improvised and composed works means that it feels both free yet structured at the same time. There are no limits placed on any of the music, so the musicians go wherever they wish, and anyone can be taking the lead or providing support, or both.

There are only four tracks, which are mostly instrumental, but one of these is more than 20 minutes in length while another is twice that size. It is hugely experimental, yet also atmospheric and there is little in the sense of discord that we sometimes get with this type of music, yet it is still challenging in that one never knows where the journey is going to lead. It can be reflective or chaotic, repetitive, or taking on new elements as it twists and turns through the labyrinth of sound. This is not something which can be played gently in the background but needs some volume to it and listeners who are prepared to be challenged. This is not for those who want their music to be served to them neatly in a pigeonhole but is for those who want to be taken on sonic adventures where everything is possible.

kev rowland | 4/5 |


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