21 May 2006

Orla Wren - Butterfly Wings Make - Expanding - CD

Expanding has delivered two superb albums so far this year, from Miller + Fiam and Modern Institute. Now we are treated to a third release from the little known Orla Wren with the evocative title ‘Butterfly Wings Make’.

It’s a gentle name for a thoroughly beautiful album and is clearly designed to conjure images of nature and fragility. This it does successfully and is accompanied by a series of tracks that are at once familiar sounding, yet invigorating at the same time.

The ill-named sub-genre of ‘Folktronica’ is a much maligned beast at the moment and the waters are brimming with me-too and sound-alike work by a vast number of artists. It’s heartening, then, to hear a genuinely heartfelt album that’s obviously been put together with a great deal of love and attention.

Orla’s sound is organic, yes, but the more electronic side of his sound shines through like a beacon and whilst there are sampled instruments you’re as likely to hear a synthetic tone or a static glitch as well.

‘Closure’ – a superb name for an opening track – kicks things off with a gentle, lilting piano and some delightful, light and very airy electronic percussion sounds. Add to that a hypnotic guitar and spacious strings and you have the kind of intro that gives you a good idea of what’s to follow. And right up to the final moments of ‘Sea Grass’ you’re treated to a work of manifold pleasures and hidden secrets.

It’s the sense of melody that really makes this album and Orla is clearly as at home with marimba sounds and exotic percussion as he is with more traditional sounding instruments. The blend of atmospheres is truly lovely and ranges from Folk influences right through to the work of Murcof or Digitonal. There’s clearly a classical leaning here but it’s nowhere near as overt as the aforementioned artists.

There’s also a lightly glitchy sound that recalls the work of labels such as 12k or Plop and this, combined with the more melodic elements provides a well-rounded experience with all bases covered. It never spreads itself too thinly though and manages to balance all of these influences with style and ease, even down to the inclusion of background field recordings which serve to highlight the natural feel of the album.

This is the type of music that will accompany your summer with ease. Refreshing, mellow, sunny-sounding and with just the right level of sweetness but enough bite to keep you coming back for more.

Expanding once again hit the right spot with another
wonderful release.


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