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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

STEVE ORCHARD: Undersail (2012)

Far from the bastions of a progressive and sequenced EM, Steve Orchard navigates comfortably in his poetic universe

1 In Titanic's Wake 5:32 2 Ghost Ships 5:51 3 Strange Cargo 6:27 4 God Speed 6:39 5 Midnight Ocean 3:21 6 Starboard Out 5:28 7 For Those Lost at Sea 3:44 8 Dead Calm 6:48 9 Navigating by the Stars 5:23 10 Sleeping in Steerage 5:03 11 Full Astern 4:31 12 Port Home 5:26

(CD/DDL 64:13) (New Age)

It's in the vestiges from the Titanic and the profound sadness which ensues of its heart-rending stories that Steve Orchard has weaved the main lines of his 2nd opus on AD Music and its New Age division. After a first album more acoustic than electronics, Riverboat, Steve Orchard wraps the melodies which decorate UNDERSAIL with sound effects which place the work in its murderous element as well as of a beautiful electronic envelope with synth lines filled by tears of mist. Violined lines and breaths of flutes which rock and take away the silky rhythms and the gloomy melodies, drawn in the strings of a dreamy acoustic guitar and the notes of a pensive piano, towards inner lands. There where souvenirs get merge into stories.

It's all softly that In Titanic’s Wake introduces us to the universe as melancholic as poetics of UNDERSAIL. The English musician lays a purely meditative melody which floats in our ears with the delicacy of its poignant fluty breeze which weaves its lament in the strings of a soft melancholic guitar. Dreamy and nostalgic In Titanic's Wake is part of these melodies molded in a profound sadness that envelopes of violin transport in a veil of tears. I think of the very delicate For Those Lost At Sea, the poignant and moving Sleeping in Steerage as well as to Midnight Ocean and its piano notes which sing a lullaby on ocean streams and in the strings of weeping violins. But there is not only sadness and desolation in this Steve Orchard's posthumous work. Even if we feel a profound melancholy behind UNDERSAIL certain titles in revive the bitterness with more lively rhythms, as in Ghost Ships, Strange Cargo and Navigating by the Stars where the very melodious approaches are stood firm on tempos with Mediterranean flavor. God Speed is more languorous and offers a slightly jazzy structure abundantly coated of captivating foggy veiled, quite as on Starboard Out which is a very beautiful and lively melody with an Irish soul and Full Astern which seems to be taken out of Mike Oldfield's Celtic territories. Among all these small pearls of serenity which flow all along the route of this album, we cannot ignored Dead Calm which possesses the poetic beauty of the beautiful ballads of UNDERSAIL while having an ethnic touch of the old England lands, but with a sharply more progressive approach, while Port Home and its mortuary march fed by poignant violins shaped in the sighs of melancholy ends this other sweet album of meditative music signed Steve Orchard.

Far from the bastions of a progressive and sequenced EM, Steve Orchard navigates comfortably in his poetic universe. UNDERSAIL is a beautiful opus filled of a serene tranquillity where the English guitarist exploits marvellously the art of the melancholic melody in a rich dramatic pattern. In fact, it's a musical tale played with the same elegance as the best storytellers of poems on this tragedy of which the emotional variances are aptly returned on this Steve Orchard's very melodic opus.

Sylvain Lupari (May 22th, 2012)

Available at AD Music

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