A sublime, disorientating LP which navigates chanson-pop grooves, eldritch psych-rock and vintage electro
This sublime, disorientating LP is a rarity in every sense. It is uncommon, in this day and age, to make a double vinyl album, for starters – although it feels futile to measure this abstract opus against such a humdrum framework as time. For said pressing to sell-out – as did the initial 2012 run of Tumult in Clouds (via Glasgow’s excellent Clan Destine label) – is similarly unusual. Now this welcome re-press, on Orleans' own Parental Guidance imprint, looks set to follow suit. Look sharp. And listen close.
Ela Orleans is an exceptional artist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. The Poland-raised, Glasgow-based haunt-pop diviner (and former member of local rock troupe Hassle Hound) assimilates literature, theatre, fine art and technology into her untethered music, which navigates chanson-pop grooves, eldritch psych-rock and vintage electro.
What's perhaps most striking about Tumult in Clouds is that, despite its variegated sonic vistas, it is an entrancing, cohesive body of work – from the ominous, minimalist electronica of 'Dark Wood', through an Aleister Crowley-citing dread-pop psalm ('A Jealous Lover'), to the scuzz-riff toting, Lord Byron-quoting garage reverie that is 'Your Fame' (a track which perhaps echoes Orleans' sonic underground tenure in New York). Evocative, haunting titles eddy like recurring dreams and half-memories ('Nocturne', 'Longing', 'Light At Dawn', 'In The Night') and so too do motley literary references.
You might align Orleans' unearthly charms with Grouper, Broadcast or Julia Holter, and her unsettling aesthetic resonates with the Outer Church, Trunk, Scarfolk and Ghost Box, but Orleans is quite unlike any other. Compare her neu-romantic voyages on Tumult In Clouds with her acid/techno union as Bläck/Tract, for example; or contrast this album's reedy discord ('Where Are You') with its uber-chic vintage pop swansong, 'In The Night'. The latter rivals Stereolab and Portishead in terms of classy ambience, and provides a fitting ending to this beautiful compendium of billowing gloom and silver linings.
Ela Orleans plays as part of Counterflows festival, Garnethill Mutli-Cultural Centre, Fri 4 Apr.