CD Reviews Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere - 03

Published on 26th July 2017

Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere – θ3


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Beamed in from the outer reaches of known space, or Sheffield to be more precise, is the third instalment from Martin Archer’s Kraut/jazz/experimental space rock troupe Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere. Theta Three finds the band continuing on from the second instalment to explore the far sonic reaches.

Disc ‘α’ sets off at a languid pace, Orionid establishes a Kosmische jam, and later Sun Ra conducts Massive Attack and Xhol Caravan on a languid groove with orchestral sweeps during Solar Prominences. As this first disc progresses it becomes ever more ethereal and ephemeral, Fictitious Force being a collection of found sounds and eerie voices off being picked up by the deepest space telescope as they flutter by, borne on the solar wind. An Excess Of Protons produces a peculiar white funk with early Floyd touches as it saunters through clouds of swirling asteroid dust. The arrival of a repeated stringed orchestration adds a sense of purpose to the drift as the craft picks up speed.

Perhaps the lower case alpha that titles this disc is indicative of its introspective and highly meditative nature, as this trip is as much a journey into inner space as outer space. More references to prime era Krautrock surface during Anisotropic Shapes which inescapably recalls early Tangerine Dream contemplating the vastness of the universe, alien lifeforms sending messages back and forth along a simple repeated bass guitar motif. The pace picks up with Circularity, and a tail chasing rhythm forms the backdrop for some nicely understated sax work from Martin.

The following two tracks re-establish the unhurried and quieter pattern of before, and surprisingly Synaptic develops into a fully formed song, a cosmic lullaby given form presumably by the beguiling tones of frostlake. The more animated space rock jazz orchestra excursion of Pororoca brings the first CD to a conclusion, and we are already anticipating the final leg of the journey.

[This video is from a 2014 performance by the band, and the same venue features in the
inside cover art of this album.]

Disc ‘Ω’ sets off on a jazz-symphonic meander with the hypnotic melody of The Price Of Revealing, the trombone of George Murray to the fore. The disc continues with the Gothic timbres of Galleon which uses multi-tracked choral voices to great effect. Although the overall feel of this disc is more direct in delivery than disc α, we return to the disturbances and ripples familiar from that disc with Tangential Force, which by its end has dissolved into wisps of silence.

Sampled voices barking the title of The White Dog Is Your Father lends it an edgy vibe, and Spark Erosion has a curiously Miles flavour to it, and also features a fine arrangement from the small jazz orchestral ensemble, topped off with some sterling synth work. Some great keyboard and electric piano work permeates the unfolding drama of Accelerating Expansion, and the clues to the music held within Inertial Force are given by its title. Album closer Circumzenithal makes stately progress from quiet beginnings, led by Steve Dinsdale’s percussive instruction and Terry Todd’s bass, to ebb and flow between treated voices and synth explorations, ending up on a far flung orbit of choral call and response, only to fade quickly away with the promise of more just out of reach. Bring on θ4!

A sublime meeting of composed sections and improvisation, θ3 continues the progression of Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere apace, and showcases a group of musicians who, comfortable in their own skins, can anticipate their colleagues’ next moves with an élan that results in a highly enjoyable excursion to the outer limits and back again. A meeting of jazz rock, space rock, and experimentalism, this is an album that should find approval from fans of all those handy little cookie jars.

TRACK LISTING
Disc α

01. Orionid (12:38)
02. Solar Prominences (5:52)
03. Graced With Secrets (7:59)
04. Fictitious Force (5:52)
05. An Excess Of Protons (7:30)
06. Anisotropic Shapes (10:37)
07. Circularity (6:02)
08. Coriolis Force (5:53)
09. Synaptic (7:39)
10. Pororoca (8:36)

Total Time – 78:58

Disc Ω
01. The Price Of Revealing (7:39)
02. Galleon (5:04)
03. Tangential Force (10:06)
04. The White Dog Is Your Father (6:33)
05. Niobium (6:31)
06. Spark Erosion (8:54)
07. The Dust Of Blue Fire (9:08)
08. Accelerating Expansion (5:12)
09. Inertial Force (6:38)
10. Circumzenithal (11:30)

Total Time – 77:34

MUSICIANS
Martin Archer – Keyboards, Electronics, Saxophones, Clarinets, Flute, Bass Recorder, Bass Harmonica
Chris Bywater – Keyboards, Electronics, Laptop, Percussion, Voice, Violin
Steve Dinsdale – Electronic Drum Kit, Keyboards
frostlake – Voice, Electronics, Viola
Yvonna Magda – Violin, Electronics
Walt Shaw – Percussion, Electronics, Voice
Terry Todd – Bass Guitar
~ With:
George Murray – Trombone
Paul Schatzberger – Violin
Aby Vulliamy – Viola
Angela Rosenfeld – Cello

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Discus Music
Catalogue#: Discus 63CD
Year of Release: 2017

LINKS
Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere – Facebook

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