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Here at Norman Towers we’re tireless exponents of Ela Orleans’s dreamy haunty weirdpop so I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty excited about this album turning up, with 19 new songs (well, there’s two sub-30-second interludes so 17 really) stretched over four sides of pristine black vinyl. The most recent couple, ‘Lost’ and ‘Mars Is Heaven’, hav ...

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Tumult in Clouds by Ela Orleans
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10/10 Mike Staff review, 19 December 2012

Here at Norman Towers we’re tireless exponents of Ela Orleans’s dreamy haunty weirdpop so I think it’s fair to say I’m pretty excited about this album turning up, with 19 new songs (well, there’s two sub-30-second interludes so 17 really) stretched over four sides of pristine black vinyl. The most recent couple, ‘Lost’ and ‘Mars Is Heaven’, have both been played so much in my house that they’re permanently imprinted on my subconscious now, and so getting this much new material at once (even more if you include her super-limited remix LP which also drops this week) is a treat of epic proportions, especially since I’ve been studiously avoiding hearing any clips online prior to release.

It does, however, make my job as a reviewer pretty difficult since this album is ambitious and diverse and of course very long, and I foolishly stayed up past 3am talking to a friend so my mind isn’t what it should be today. The overall feel is a bit more lighthearted and playful than previous efforts, with a little more Madlibesque sampledelicism in places (although that’s hardly something new for her) and perhaps with more of an obvious soundtrack influence (I keep hearing the likes of Herrmann and Korzynski creeping through the cracks in her brittle ghost-pop) but still with the crackly old-time atmospheres and androgynous vocals that we all love about her previous offerings.

On my third listen through, highlights include opener ‘A Jealous Lover’, which pairs a lengthy Aleister Crowley speech sample with a sweet shuffle groove, the melodic loopiness of ‘This Is’ captures that classic intangible nostalgic aesthetic which Orleans has really made her own in recent years, ‘Light At Dawn’ is a total spook-pop classic which has previously surfaced as a download, then on side three we get my favourite cut so far, a cover of Francoise Hardy’s ‘J’ai Bien Du Chagrin’ which mixes French speech samples and uplifting cut up brass loops over a base of warm melodic drift. Utterly brilliant. Then there’s a gameboy-sampling interlude and then ‘Risky Trip to the Underworld’ is like a Pye Corner Audio-ish take on Alain Goraguer’s ‘La Planete Sauvage’ OST before the epic title track washes us away into a blissed-out trance with slow-cycling melodies and analogue decay. On the final side the big surprise is ‘Your Fame’ which punks things up to an Orleans take on ‘60s psych-garage pop with lyrics appropriated from Lord Byron of all people in her trademark cut’n’paste magpie style. Amazing. There’s a bit more ‘60s psych-pop in the upbeat closer ‘In The Night’, which has a totally sweet guitar lick looping under some breathy self-harmonising vocals.

Even with this review threatening to turn into an epic essay I really feel like I’m only scratching the surface of the nonstop brilliance contained on these two LPs. Right now this album is making me feel better about being alive, I hope it makes you feel the same.


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