jeudi 2 mai 2013

STEVE ORCHARD: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (2013)

“As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning is a very beautiful album where every track possesses its little something that touches”
1 For Gaia 6:13
2 Sepia Postcards 5:12 
3 A Shaded Place 3:47
4 Strands of Light 4:29
5 Shallow Water 6:06 
6 Mistral 4:56 
7 News of War 5:16 
8 Slave of the Heart 5:35 
9 Honeysuckle 4:26 
10 Sierra 5:34
11 Moth in the Lantern 4:24 
12 Redwood 4:40

AD126CDr | (DDL 60:38) ***½ (Melodious New Age)

I like the music of Steve Orchard. If the man is not a dreamer (I don't know him that much to be truly sure that he is), he is on the other hand very poetic. Soft and impregnated by an intense romantic approach, his music flirts with the traditional atmospheres of the England countrysides where the medieval poetry breathes by some soft chords and poignant arrangements. Having drawn his inspirations from the wreck of the Titanic, the English guitarist returns with an album always so intimist inspired this time by Laurie Lee's memoir; As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Available in downloadable format on AD Music  platform, “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” is an album mainly acoustic where are dragging some electric riffs and floating some beautiful orchestral arrangements, weaved in the shadows of Mellotron which doesn't hesitate to spread tears of violins and sighs of flutes, when it's not instruments more traditional as accordions.
The first notes of "For Gaia" resound like a soft musical canon of carillons. The fingers marked by magic, Steve Orchard makes sing his strings as he assembles them to espouse an orchestral acoustic approach. A soft synth to fragrances of flute caresses these meditative notes, forging a seraphic melody which subdivides its feelings in a dreamlike depth. More lively, and clearly closer of the acoustic ballad kind, "Sepia Postcards" displays his moving melody in a movement of ethereal waltz. The strings are finely pinched, drawing with precision a melody which drags its earworm in ambiences sometimes folk and sometimes cinematographic with wings of Mellotron violins which float with a scent of nostalgia. I think in particular of the delicate and morphic "Mistral", and of its electric guitar which releases its harmonies on a track with a soft dreamy tempo. What is to say about the very sad "News of War"? And "Slave of the Heart" which cries in the thoughts of its violin, of its accordion and of its heart-rending feelings? Two marvels of sensibility which tear the wall of the soul.
Meditative, "A Shaded Place" flows into our ears with a spring approach where blow the dreams of the angels and sing torn ballads by birds. Steve Orchard  paints his music with a surprising orchestral delicacy, so giving constantly a poignant depth of melancholy. Thus, "Strands of Light" hesitates between its spectral and medieval approach fed by poetic orchestral harmonies. It's of a sweetness to make sing the angels and to make sigh the rocks. More contemporary than folk, "Shallow Water" is a ballad for Elves which cavorts on a delicate rhythm. The approach adopts a kind of acoustic lounge with a fine meshing of acoustic and electric. That reminds me of Darshan Ambient, quite as the atmospheres of collective joy which surround "Moth in the Lantern". We sing near a camp fire? After a dark departure, "Honeysuckle" develops a mesmerizing seraphic dance where the notes are courting the beauties of nature. The flute and the violins weave an ambience of solitude which reminds me a ballad for solitary walker who sighs on his past while contemplating the beauties of a life that he discovers at knocks of sorrow. Very filmic, "Sierra" borrows the melancholy of the solitary cowboys whom Ennio Morricone liked to whisper in our waking dreams. It's an approach which glides throughout the emotions of “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” which closes the books with a more cheerful track, which would also have been able to be a part of the Italian folklore of the composer of Sacco and Vanzetti.
When the sleep is long to come and when I drained my night-discotheque of Berlin School EM on my iPod, it's towards Steve Orchard that I address my sleep since I discovered the very beautiful Riverboat. And “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” is, by far, better. It's a very beautiful album where every track possesses its little something that touches. If the devil hides in detail, the beauty is just beneath it. It's Steve Orchard who made me discover this by the meditative beauty of his works which caress as much the darkness as the brightness of the tales and legends of the English folklore.

Sylvain Lupari (April 30th, 2013)

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