STEVE ORCHARD: Beyond the Realm of Angels (2013)
“Even if more electronic, Beyond the Realm of Angels preserves this so poetic touch of Steve Orchard”
1 Calendine 4:17 2 Creatures of the Wing 5:22 3 Realm 4:33 4 Prodigal Angel 5:13 5 Transitions 4:29 6 Celestial Drift 5:54 7 Flight to Indras 6:21 8 Pale Stars 5:32 9 Hesperus 5:35 10 Inherit the Meek 4:53 11 Union of Hemispheres 6:14 12 Final Eclipse 5:10 AD125CDr
(DDL 63:33) (V.F.)
(Melodious New Age)
The first notes of a piano forged in the hearth of nostalgia open Calendine. And as an old friend, Steve Orchard enters our head with another beautiful melancholic romance which is lay on a soft and musical piano and of its soft and dark notes where angels hum an ethereal hymn. If this first track seems familiar to us, BEYOND THE REALM OF ANGELS presents a more electronic and clearly less meditative album from the English guitar/synth player. The synths are more present, and they weave some poignant arrangements and swirling rhythms that real percussions entail in structures of dance, down-tempo as ambient rhythms. The guitars are always in the heart of the melodic action with chords of kind of ballads, some riffs lost here and there, as well as of heart-rending solos. Lascivious bass line, slow tempo and seraphic arrangements, Creatures of the Wing flies and floats on the wings of orchestral Mellotron. The tone is intense and moving. The arrangements as well as the virgin choruses and the tearing guitar solo remind me of Mike Oldfield's acoustic works. Moreover, this pleasant euphoria to hear Mike Oldfield's musical imprints here and there wins us as soon as our ears accept this Steve Orchard's real musical present. Magnificently beautiful, Realm offers a light rhythm. Finely drummed by delicate percussions, it bears the bases of a melody hung on an acoustic guitar from which the pinched notes speak to us and catch ethereal breaths and voices which float with grace in orchestrations sometimes jerked, sometimes dramatic. It's a very beautiful track, quite as the troubling and passionate Union of Hemispheres, by far the most powerful and most intense piece of music of BEYOND THE REALM OF ANGELS.
Prodigal Angel preserves all the ingredients of Steve Orchard's melodic power with a beautiful oneiric down-tempo flooded under deeply touching orchestrations. Imagine a movie where two lovers find themselves after many inconceivable adventures; it is this kind of music that would play on background. If one loves, one shall also love Pale Stars and its languishing spiritual procession. More electronic, Transitions swirls on the jingles of its cymbals and on the euphoria of the waltzing Mellotron strata. Always very harmonious, the guitar draws the rhythm and melody which takes the looks of an intergalactic western. Afterward we fall into a more electronic portion of this album. Celestial Drift and Flight to Indras are two heavy and intense tracks where the guitars force some harmonious duels on electronic rhythms and orchestrations finely structured to establish a deep pattern of troubled emotions. When I hear Hesperus, I have this odd sensation of hearing a nebula version of Eric Clapton's Layla, but played in another world. It's as well unique as it can be good! After a very seraphic intro, Inherit the Meek catches the swirling rhythm of the percussions to fly in the airs of a good-humoured melody. One would say some disco played in a home for old men. Final Eclipse ends BEYOND THE REALM OF ANGELS like Calendine had begun it; either with a soft wandering ballad where the piano, and its melodious notes, are merging into to a more electronic environment. The track dives then into a surprising musical dream where everything is soft and turns in slow motion with strata which sing and sound effects which twitter in the sighs of Morpheus that orchestrations bring beyond heaven. Then again it's another very beautiful track which concludes another Steve Orchard's very lyrical album which seems so comfortable in an electronic universe as an acoustic one … A little like Mike Oldfield?
Sylvain Lupari (May 5th, 2013) *****
Available at AD Music