Jeff Sharp aka Orior is another one of those people who has kept dusty old analogue tapes in his attic for the best part of two decades. Demdike Stare duo Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty have been helping have a clear out and have discovered another batch of compositions from the '80s and '90s. This is a treasure trove of lost synth compositions reminiscent of everything from Vangelis, Boards of Canada and Deathprod. Dig in.
Limited Vinyl Double LP £19.99 DDS031
Edition of 500 copies dark green coloured vinyl 2LP on DDS. Restored from original 1/4” analogue tapes. Mixed by Miles Whittaker & Ian Gilbert. Mastered at D&M.
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- Coloured vinyl
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Whereas most folks lofts conceal little more than cobwebs and fossilised old Christmas decorations, enigmatic artist Jeff Sharp aka Orior appears to have a roof space that’s like some ancient tomb that’s been hiding buried treasure. Demdike Stare are doing a fine job in exhuming this otherwise forgotten gold - in 2016 they presented ‘Strange Beauty’ on their own DDS label, and now the follow-up ‘Still Strange’. The original analogue tapes have been restored, baked and the audio pressed onto dark green wax.
The album begins with recordings spanning 1979-1983, around the same period as the first collection. Mysterious intro ‘Oh Um’ leads the way for the wonderfully rudimentary post-punk drum machine, beautifully chiming and hypnotic guitar motifs and yearning vocal refrain of ‘Feels Like Summer’. Then we wander into the eerie dark ambient of ‘Under Shadow’ and into ‘Larbico Alt Mix’ which feels like wandering through a cavernous haunted cathedral. We then fast forward in time to later works recorded somewhere around the early ‘90s, but there’s a continuity to the sequence of the album that means this is only apparent, at least to me, because I’ve read about it - otherwise I’d never have guessed. ‘Endless’ hovers like a gauzy apparition before the soul-stirring ‘To Return’ breaks my heart with its gorgeous, blue melancholy synth. An unresolved tension permeates the star gazing ‘Unknown Future’ before we glide through neon-lit sci-fi skies on ‘Invium’. The desolate widescreen beauty of forlorn closer ‘Gothic’ exudes loneliness that’s like wandering a relentless barren landscape, as though we were the last human searching for surviving life on a scorched earth.
Pretty stunning how work spanning three decades has been curated into such a cohesive album - a testament to Jeff Sharp’s continuing vision and ability to tap into something intangible beyond the light. As the album unfolds, it’s like travelling through time from the comfort of your armchair. Recommended.
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