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Ela Orleans is one of the few artists that we can pretty much all agree on here at Norman Towers, but this record threw me off a little when we first spun it yesterday. Listening to it again today, however, I'm really warming to it. Her previous two LPs have been very much fully-formed and song-based, with the most recent 'Mars Is Heaven' being one of the most unique and extraordinary experi ...

LP £12.99 CDRLP007

LP on Clan Destine Records.

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NEO PI-R by Ela Orleans
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9/10 Mike Staff review, 20 December 2011

Ela Orleans is one of the few artists that we can pretty much all agree on here at Norman Towers, but this record threw me off a little when we first spun it yesterday. Listening to it again today, however, I'm really warming to it. Her previous two LPs have been very much fully-formed and song-based, with the most recent 'Mars Is Heaven' being one of the most unique and extraordinary experimental pop records I've heard all year. On NEO PI-R - originally released on cassette but now given a proper vinyl pressing - we're treated to a selection of four-track recordings, and the emphasis here is less on the haunted dancehall of her other LPs and more on fractured, repetitive and largely instrumental experimental minimal pieces. There's snippets of piano and strings on cushions of warm crackle and hiss that often sound more like her former band Hassle Hound than her previous solo work, or maybe like her previous solo work deconstructed by The Field or something? The press release refers to it as “post-punk from the Gaslamp Era”, which I think is a snappy and appropriate description. Orleans does sing on a handful of tracks here but the bulk of these tracks are crackly, looped compositions, pairing ancient-sounding piano and strings with more modern electronic elements and shuffling organic Moondog-esque rhythms, with occasional wisps of Orleans's wistful, androgynous vocals over the top, like a fever dream. If you're new to her work then 'Mars Is Heaven' might be a better place to start, but if you're already a fan of her ghostly minimal or are generally into weird instrumental loop-based stuff, this is an album which will reward repeated listens.


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