115CD - orfeo 5 - the long view - CD plus download

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Description
Orfeo 5 formed in 2002 out of a series of text/music projects curated by The Word Hoard artists’ co-op. They’ve composed and toured a number of commissions in different line-ups, and released two CDs, a year on the ice from The Word Hoard in 2009, and in the green castle from Discus in 2017. The core of the group’s sound comes from longstanding members Shaun Blezard on electronics and Keith Jafrate on saxophones, with other players from an extended family of musicians and poets joining them from time to time.

This excerpt from Keith’s liner notes can serve as an introduction to their new release, the long view:

“A week before lockdown began in the UK in March 2020, I recorded the first part of the long view, to attempt some kind of perspective on what was happening. While making the piece, it occurred to me that I could use the enforced period at home to make new work that had some bearing on this strange confinement we were all about to enter. Composing and recording over the following weeks, I listened again, as part of a kind of idle stock-take, to a series of trio recordings orfeo 5 made in 2007-08, with Shaun Blezard and I joined by the singer Ali Rigg. To my immense joy, they not only sounded great, but seemed to fit perfectly with my idea of addressing lockdown as an incentive to travel in the imagination. I promptly messaged Shaun with a proposal to combine the new material and this old unreleased session in a new orfeo 5 release for Discus.

He called immediately to tell me Ali was dead. I can’t listen to it now without crying, for sorrow and for joy.

Our intention to develop and refine the material was never realised, because Ali unexpectedly withdrew from the process for her own reasons, and I think Shaun and I felt it would be inappropriate to question them. It’s like a gig, everything recorded live to two-track, including the technical problems. Only the poems aren’t improvised. Listening now, I ask myself why I wrote the way I did, and in different circumstances I would probably have revised the whole series. But Ali’s singing justifies my words, and I stand by the story we made between the three of us, in the hope it can be some sort of antidote to the hopeless narratives currently peddled by heartless fools worldwide.”

the long view consists on CD of 10 tracks, with 5 new tracks surrounding 5 from the session with Ali. There is a bonus track included with the download that reconfigures an unfinished piece from the trio recordings. 

Shaun Blezard – electronics
Keith Jafrate - saxophones, electronics, vocals
Ali Rigg – vocals
blt 63 - vocals on track 2
Dianne Darby & Liz Tolan - vocals on track 3
Reviews

Not interstellar space—more like interpsychic space. Orfeo 5 are that rare breed: they can easily entertain twin states of mind simultaneously, daring you to inhabit their non-hermetic multiple dimensions in one fell swoop. Surely not ‘jazz’ or ‘electronica’ in the purist sense, experimental in nature but with a devastatingly personal touch, the players are essentially a duo of Keith Jafrate (wordsmith, saxophonist, vocalist, and electronicist) and Shaun Blezard (chief electronics manipulator), their presence on Martin Archer’s uncategorizable Discus Music only serving to highlight the label’s able-bodied identity and singular vitality. What makes this, the group’s second outing, more poignant are the vocalizings/spoken word cadences of the late Ali Rigg, who passed away during the interim of her original 2007-08 contributions and this recording’s 2021 birth. Rigg’s impassioned articulations of Jafrate’s stream of consciousness poems are as eruptive within the music’s very sinew as are his sleek, irising saxophone lines, which can scream in ecclesiastic penance ala Shepp or Coltrane, or smooth the brow like the polished silken strides of a Michael Brecker. For his part, Blezard provides the proverbial icing on the cake, his contributions alternating between being openly demonstrative and subtly nourishing. On the tour de force that is “Countless Pedestrian Agonies”, Blezard’s electronic gales and splattered software detritus pitch Rigg’s singsong spoken verbiage into strange abyssal voids, emotionally rescued by Jafrate’s own immolating particulates and baleful sax lines that flow like cooling mercury, coating Rigg’s words in protective, velvety silver. The ethereal quality throughout this recording, bathed in reflective pools of expansive echo, suggests hauntological dioramas erected within their own respective ghost boxes, but just when things become too ‘ambient’, the Lewis Carroll phantasia-derived “The Frog Who Fell in the Waterbutt”, with its rubbery IDMatic chug and sparkly-speckled synthetic interludes, upsets the apple cart thanks to the oddball swim of its own uncharacteristic, topographic tale. Equal parts gleeful whimsy and variegated myth, this disc’s discrete imagistic charms alter your expectations like an aural bath in absinthe, comprised of epic soundtracks for the mind that color it as one of the more hallucinatory experiences you’re likely to imbibe this year. - Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC

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The latest release from pastoral improv troupe Orfeo 5 is tinged with a certain melancholy due to the passing of vocalist Ali Rigg.  Main man Keith Jafrate, having chosen to review some pieces with which Ali had been involved back in 2007/2008, contacted Shaun Blezard and the sad circumstances came to light. These five older pieces were to be part of the collection of current work and the later additions work as bookends or cocoons around the earlier tracks, keeping them safe.  Across the bulk of this album, Keith’s saxes weave long, sinuous soundscapes through which various vocalists make their intrepid way. Opener “The Long View” introduces Keith’s breezy, romantic side, the sax an effervescent delight, but the Lynchian discord of the synths also lends it an unsettled air.  There appear to be two saxes on the sprawling “Midwinter Light” and blt 63‘s vocal starts off as breathy, smoky vapour around which the saxes entwine, partly protecting and partly enticing, trying to draw it further into the light. The piece drifts gently and hesitantly like a slow waltz around a secluded garden, deliberate but with a warmth that keeps off the early morning chill. It lasts for almost fourteen minutes and blows endlessly cool, but with the voice warming as the frost clears.  This long-form style is so right for these pieces that are short on structure but long on atmosphere, and “Straying From The Path” moves like a dervish, spiralling freely over the mantra-like litany of the close to the bone collective’s seemingly random words. The sound is even freer here, but a little more disturbed, more easily spooked while being grounded by Dianne Darby and Liz Tolan‘s intoned vocals. These opening two tracks are nicely varied, and in some ways prepare you for the step back in time to Ali’s section. Her voice on “Countless Pedestrian Agonies” is a distant dream over weather atmospherics that dispense with structure. There is a sweet and soulful resonance, with the found sounds sending a lovely quiver through the bustling backdrop.  Her vocals approach as if she were in a mysterious, unfolding landscape, and the smokey sax and sounds of nature help with that dreamlike vibe. There is an interesting diversity when Keith’s vocal comes into play, his ancient poet’s voice lending further freedom to Ali’s soar and the jazzy references of “Recalling The Call Of Birds”. She goes really deep into the words, sipping and savouring with the minimal backing only highlighting the flavours. It sometimes feels as if you are trespassing on somebody’s inner thoughts and that proximity only heightens the intensity.  Things become noisier and a little sinister as we move on, and “All My Skin Alight” feels as though we are listening to this unfolding next door to a club, the beats breathing through the wall, surrounded by static. It hits a groove, and here Ali sounds soulful as the funky sub-bass propels things for the first time so far. It is supple and a little sexy and once again we find another side to the album. The final two tracks are Keith’s vehicles and his poet’s delivery really suits the heartworn words of “Broken Hymn”, a steady comedown leading into a reprise of the opening track, taking us safely back to the beginning.  The Long View is a wildly appealing and warming series of tracks that highlight Orfeo 5’s questing sensibility and are a fitting legacy to the memory of Ali Rigg. It is a journey of intimate yearning, resting in the arms of a world that both warms and inspires. A triumph.  - Mr Olivetti, FREQ

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