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North Sea Radio Orchestra - North Sea Radio Orchestra

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 25 / 1 / 2007

North Sea Radio Orchestra - North Sea Radio Orchestra
Label: Oof
Format: CD


Complex and unusual but ultimately highly rewarding folk music on debut album from the North Sea Radio Orchestra

This album is many things. What it isn’t is an easy ride – if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to slip and find you’re ten minutes on and in a completely different place, musically. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, to be sure. There’s no techno or metal here; in fact, the whole album largely consists of delicately arranged string and piano pieces, with occasional vocal interludes. But there’s enough variety in that small definition to make sure that in order to get the most from the North Sea Radio Orchestra, it’s necessary to listen hard. It’s that same variety that makes the album a little hard in places – there seems to be little coherence binding the whole thing. Overall, it’s largely grounded in the British folk tradition although tracks such as 'Every Day Hath Its Night' are very reminiscent of more recent film soundtracks, while 'Minnermus In Church' is, appropriately, in the modal vein of early religious music. It may be laziness, but the stand-out tracks seem to be the ones with the livelier vocals, such as the jaunty 'Joy For My Heart', and one of the last tracks, which sets Yeats’s 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' superbly in the style of Carole King. That said, when the modes return for the following track, 'Shelley’s Skylark', it’s done with grace and skill, and this and the other less catchy sections of the album certainly leave the listener with food for thought. In all, though, the "faults" of the album – if you can call them that – are more likely explained as deficiencies in your reviewer’s musical education. The North Sea Radio Orchestra being an actual orchestra rather than a ‘band’, this album is the product of many hands and voices, both in the composing and the performing, and it’s that that gives it its giddy variety. The variety is both its strength and its weakness. For someone unschooled in modern composing to try to unravel the poetry and composition that’s gone into the work’s creation is a tricky task. Suffice to say that it makes a nice change from the rest of the current music masquerading as folk, and that although it’s hard work, it’s rewarding listening.

Track Listing:-
1 Organ Miniature
2 Every Day Hath its Night
3 Kingstanding
4 Chimes
5 Guitar Miniature
6 Mimnermus In Church
7 He Gives His Beloved Certain Rhymes
8 Hole In The Sky
9 Joy For My Heart
10 Shelley's Skylark
11 He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven
12 Bill's March

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