Hidden Orchestra
Archipelago


4.5
superb

Review

by Kristof B. USER (6 Reviews)
October 1st, 2012 | 130 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The night has ended, but Hidden Orchestra’s story is not over

Although people generally like to find labels for everything they encounter and put it all in neat little categories, some artists are hard to pin down this way. Take Hidden Orchestra: genres used to refer to this band are jazz, electronic, classical, ambient and hip hop. All these labels apply in some degree, but they become rather meaningless if used this way: with so many categories, it is impossible to derive an image of how the band’s music sounds. Judging from the categories, it could have been rapped vocals, mixed with saxophone playing and a cheesy synth line. Obviously, this is by no means a correct description of Hidden Orchestra’s music, but it clearly shows the limitations of the “genre-approach”.

So it is probably better to just ditch the labels and provide a more detailed description of Hidden Orchestra and its music. Formerly known as The Joe Acheson Quartet, the band indeed consists of four members with Joe Acheson as their driving force. With Tim Lane and Jamie Graham, the band has two percussionists, providing the core of the sound. The prime influence of the music is jazz which is clearly to be heard in the drumming, but this is supplemented by Acheson’s electronic dance-based beats and basses. Furthermore we have Poppy Ackroyd’s violin and piano playing and all these elements are tied together by Acheson’s sampling of a wide variety of sounds such as field recordings of natural sound effects, solo recordings of guest musicians and orchestral arrangements.

Hidden Orchestra’s acclaimed 2010 debut Night Walks was the musical translation of a dark, restless night full of thoughts and waking dreams. But now, the rather muggy night transforms in a brisk morning. Archipelago shows us the events during these hours after dawn. After the album’s “Overture”, showcasing parts of the other song’s themes and thus serving as an introduction of what to expect, “Spoken” shows us the awakening of nature. After our sleepless night, we find ourselves on the shoreline and we can hear the waves and the birds flying above them. Besides the field recordings, “Spoken” is composed of equal parts piano, drumming and varied trumpet playing, creating an atmosphere which is more lively than what we experienced during Night Walks.

“Flight” continues on these lively and fresh emotions. It is a very folky and quite catchy tune featuring a rather prominent electronic bass, strings, harp and saxophone. It is indeed a flight (emphasized by, for example, wind sounds), the real start of the journey that Archipelago is. It’s also a nice illustration of all the songs on this album: the large influence the various guest musicians have, enriching the music with their skills on the additional instruments. (Most notably Floex, who co-authored “Hushed” and is responsible for the soothing clarinet on that track.) Each instrument has its place and each musician has his or her occasion to play a solo, but the pieces always build up to a marvelous final – or a sudden breakdown and a moment of peace.

Despite the similarities between the pieces, they all have their own character and each piece brings something new to the sound to make it stand out. From the cinematic (indeed, think of The Cinematic Orchestra) “Vorka”, featuring an uneasy atmosphere due to the saw sounds, to the plainly beautiful closer “Vainamoinen”, the album is able to hold the listener’s attention by being varied enough. Sure, there is nothing truly new to be found here, but rather a smooth blend of many small snippets of influences collected throughout the musical world. From the aforementioned The Cinematic Orchestra through Amon Tobin: they are all in there somewhere. For this reason Archipelago has the potential to appeal to fans of a wide variety of musical genres but, on the other hand, might leave some of the listeners unsatisfied. This is because one could accuse Acheson of playing it too safe by not going all the way in certain direction. Instead, his choice is to deliver a broad musical experience but, as mentioned before, he does it well doing so.

In conclusion, Hidden Orchestra have created a worthy successor and natural progression of Night Walks. Archipelago is organic and electronic, classic and contemporary, relaxing and exiting, subtle and vibrant, varied and consistent. Although not ground-breaking in a major way and clearly not meant for everyone this still is one of the most beautiful, haunting albums of the year.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Typhoner
October 1st 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Out today! Get it from the links on http://www.hiddenorchestra.com/archipelago

And some preview stuff:
Flight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK2imCwfC3w
Vorka: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmkBqsJEC7I

This band should really recieve more attention, so...

Digging: Clarity - Infinite

CaptainDooRight
October 1st 2012


30334 Comments


review is tits posd

and i have to hear this, keep reviewing bro, you're doing an excellent job

Havey
October 1st 2012


9806 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Loving this thing. Right now I'd say that it's better than Night Walks but that might change

Digging: Billie Holiday - Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday

Typhoner
October 1st 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@CaptainDooRight: Thanks! Seeing you liking The Cinematic Orchestra it's surely worth a shot

@Havey: Yes, I'm also not sure about that. I can see people liking Night Walks better, but for me it's this atm

ComfortablyDumb
October 1st 2012


395 Comments


Can't wait to get the vinyl in the mail. I love this group.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 1st 2012


31620 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

So good

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

mindleviticus
October 1st 2012


8331 Comments


I heard some of this on the weekend and it was really good. I'll listen to the full thing when I get the chance.

LifeAsAChipmunk
October 1st 2012


4854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ooh this seems very interesting

LifeAsAChipmunk
October 1st 2012


4854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just heard the previews, they were absolutely amazing

bloc
October 1st 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really looking forward to listening to this. Just heard the previous album yesterday and was pleased with it.

Ethics
October 1st 2012


4112 Comments


seems like anything with orchestra in it is incredible, i'll check this out
amazing review lol

Typhoner
October 2nd 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I can't get "Flight" out of my head. But that isn't a bad thing at all.

Oh, and thanks for the pos'es!

Typhoner
October 3rd 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

12 review comments and two days later, but still only three ratings: that ain't right. (The average 4.5 rating is, though.)

bloc
October 6th 2012


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enjoyable, but I prefer Night Walks

Typhoner
October 7th 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Going to see them tomorrow

Havey
October 7th 2012


9806 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's a shame this album won't catch much of Sputnik's attention

Typhoner
October 7th 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It will get some attention, but slowly (look at Night Walks). Don't know how to create a Submotion Orchestra-type hype.

Typhoner
October 9th 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

The live show yesterday evening was absolutely amazing.

scissorlocked
October 17th 2012


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review bro

checking this now,really good stuff

Digging: Low Roar - Low Roar

Typhoner
October 18th 2012


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks!

Yep!



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