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

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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

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