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Orchestra of Spheres - Nonagonic Now

  by Andy Cassidy

published: 12 / 10 / 2011

Orchestra of Spheres - Nonagonic Now
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Chaotic, but inventive debut album from eccentric New Zealand-based act, Orchestra of Spheress

From the emphatic afro-beat opening of 'Hypercube', the pace of 'Nonagonic Now' never lets up until the very last note of final song Ulululul. This is the first album from New Zealand outfit Orchestra of Spheres, and, as debuts go, it’s pretty hot stuff. Musically inventive, the album is a whole heap of fun, with imaginative instrumentation and a production which avoids the obvious and, in doing so, achieves a sound which is at once daring and rewarding. The dynamism of the opening track 'Hypercube' is continued through a widely varied collection of songs, each embracing its own particular peculiarity. Rotate is based on a riff which Keith Richards would be proud of, but rather than a typical rock vocal, the riff is overlaid with eccentric vocals and whirling synth loops. 'Spontaneous Symmetry' is essentially a guitar riff pitched somewhere between Irish folk and Thin Lizzy with an urgent drum track and effective yet economical use of an effects pedal. 'Hypersphere' is a slightly more straightforward affair than the remainder of the album, but it still manages to sound like Captain Beefheart doing electro with a Magic Band line-up featuring Crispian Mills and Syd Barrett on duelling lead guitars. 'Isness' is a hypnotic double-time march with an effective call and answer style vocal, while 'Toadstone' is an anarchic melee of shouting and general instrumental din. 'Toadstone' is the sort of track that I normally despise and consider self-indulgent, but somehow it seems appropriate on this album. It is not, however, a track to be played at dinner parties – it manages to remain on just the right side of chaotic, but only just. 'Boltzman Brain', the penultimate track, takes the ethos of 'Isness' and moulds it into a complex looping structure, with a solo played on what sounds like hand-bells. Closing track 'Ulululul' is a driving, hypnotic guitar-led instrumental which fills out to occupy one’s concentration and imagination completely. Throughout the album I was particularly impressed by the standard of musicianship, particularly the rhythm section – the drum parts are seldom complicated, but they are fast and played to perfection, and serve very well to hold the looser pieces together. Described as “creative and exploratory…dazzling matched only by the sequins and sine of their radiating costumes,” I imagine that Orchestra of Spheres would be a fantastic live act. As well as the visual and aural aspects, I would be fascinated to see some of their “home-made” instruments, which include “biscuit-tin guitar,” “electric bass carillon” and “saxomouse marimba.” This is a fresh take on electronic psychedelia, and sits perfectly between order and musical mayhem. It is by no means easy listening, but it is all the better for it. I enjoyed the fact that, for much of the album, I had no idea what instruments were producing the sounds which resonated through me. Impassioned and imaginative, this is an album which I’m sure I’ll go back to time and time again - all in all, a debut to be proud of.

Track Listing:-
1 Hypercube
2 There Is No No
3 Rotate
4 Spontaneous Symmetry
5 Eternal C Of Darkness
6 Hypersphere
7 Isness
8 Toadstone
9 Boltzmann Brain
10 Ulululul

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