Only a few weeks ago (as of this writing), I found myself languishing in the desert of old music. I hadn’t tasted a drop of fresh tunes in what seemed like months. It was probably closer to a week, but these droughts always seem longer than they really are. I was doing everything I could to find music, from cross-referencing artists on Last.fm, to checking message boards for individual recommendations. As my hope waned, I discovered an inspirational quote in one of the boards. It read, “If you aren’t finding great new music every day, you’re not looking hard enough.” That quote reminded me of how vast the internet really is. So, I pressed on with renewed vigor. When the drought finally ended, it didn’t end with just one new album. It ended with dozens of new netlabels and potentially hundreds of new artists to explore. I felt like a new man, and a rich one at that.
For this review, I’d like to share with you that first glorious drink of new sound. The artist is Orange Crush, not to be confused with the carbonated beverage. Also known as Karl Endreson, he’s a Norwegian artist who produces downtempo/ambient/atmospheric music.
The album of interest is his ’09 opus Autumn Reflections. In simplified terms, I would describe it as beats layered over with environmental sounds (birds, running water, rustling leaves), smooth synths, and calming melodies.
It’s difficult not to recall Boards of Canada while listening to Autumn Reflections. Maybe that was part of the initial appeal for me. The similarities in terms of overall vibe, analog/lo-fi instrumentation, and occult sampling are striking. But never mind, Boards of Canada. What I find so enjoyable about Orange Crush is the fullness, balance, and simplicity of each track. Every song moves at its own pace, evoking its own feelings, and summoning its own memories in a way that is at once soothing and stimulating.
Some tracks accomplish this by focusing on guitars, as in the case of “Quiet Skies” and “The Creek”. Others, like the opener “By The Shores”, emphasize droning, bass, and the beat.
If I had to choose just one track to keep from this album, I would choose “Snowbound”. It starts off with a dark and heavy, almost-industrial, feedback. A light beat carries us through that feedback and into the body of the track where we find additional layers of beats and a mid-range, melodic synths. The new layers and the progressing tone of “Snowbound” gives a sensation of motion. It is as if we’ve shaken off a wintry hibernation and have emerged from our cave to find the bright lights and sounds of spring shining in our faces and ringing in our ears. Or maybe this should all be in reverse since the album is called Autumn Reflections, not winter or spring. Nevertheless, I give it all the thumbs I have.
Orange Crush – “By The Shores”
Orange Crush – “Snowbound”
Autumn Reflections release page