No other band sounds like Hidden Orchestra. Or so I believed. But perhaps the Crotchety Research Elves just hadn’t mapped that part of the musical landscape thoroughly enough yet. Recruiting the Global Network of Discovery and Spotify as guides, Crotchety Man embarked on a journey of exploration.
Those regions were not thought to be dangerous but there was a certain unease as we set out. We wouldn’t be looking for a Snarky Puppy but there is always the possibility of running across a Boojum and we wouldn’t want anyone to softly and suddenly vanish away.
It wasn’t long before the exploration party spotted Poppy Ackroyd strolling thoughtfully along the pebble beach. We expected this, of course, for Poppy is a member of Hidden Orchestra as well as an artist in her own right. Her music, though, is less flamboyant and doesn’t put as much emphasis on the beats; she lives mainly in the neighbouring Ambient territories.
Half hidden in the trees inshore from Poppy Ackroyd another of Hidden Orchestra‘s collaborators, Floex (aka Tomáš Dvořák), could be seen. Some of Floex‘s music is very much like Hidden Orchestra‘s but the Crotchety Music Catalogue already had an entry for this artist and we were hoping to discover hitherto unknown species, so we simply noted the sighting and moved on.
There was considerable excitement when Mammal Hands came into view from around a clump of bushes no more than 50 yards ahead. Apart from known collaborators this was the only band that had been suggested by both Gnod and Spotify; surely they must be close cousins of the shape-shifting beast that Hidden Orchestra sometimes seems to be.
We observed Mammal Hands for some time. While superficially similar to Hidden Orchestra somehow they lacked the grace and overall attractiveness of the band that inspired our present quest. Furthermore, Gnod regards them as closely related to Snarky Puppy (although that was disputed among the experts in our party) and we had no intention of heading in that potentially hazardous direction.
At other times during the expedition we got glimpses of several other related specimens of wildlife. Some have already been studied by the Crotchety biologists (Slowly Rolling Camera, Bonobo) while others were either waiting to be examined (Portico Quartet, Skalpel, Jaga Jazzist, Cinematic Orchestra, Blue States, Floating Points) or completely new to us (Submotion Orchestra, Red Snapper, Lowercase Noises, Crookram). In the opinion of this researcher, though, none of these has the characteristic blend of electronic and orchestral sounds with the intricate backbeat that makes Hidden Orchestra unique.
Though we spent a good deal of time tracking through the hills and plains where the tectonic plates of classical and electronic music collide the team reluctantly came to the conclusion that no other band really sounds like Hidden Orchestra.
Then, two days ago, the Music Enthusiast blog presented a “new music revue” that included an outfit called All In Orchestra from St. Petersburg, Russia. So far they have released one album and an EP. The album is called The Pieces for Polyvoks and Orchestra and it sounds more like Hidden Orchestra than anything else that my elves and I have come across.
There are a few All In Orchestra videos on YouTube but they are mostly short snippets, full live concerts or more recent recordings that have strayed into the long grass of the dance and techno fields. Crotchety Man won’t go there, so here’s Landscapes from the Polyvoks album curtesy of Spotify.
Landscapes is fairly typical of the album but there are world music and Eastern European folk music influences there, too. And the last track, where the instruments play over a spoken account of what a psychoactive drug trip is like, is something else again. For the curious, you can find a couple of bonus track examples on Spotify here:
Why is it, I wonder, that you can search high and low for something only to find it when you trip over it unexpectedly? Ah, well, that’s all part of the fascinating landscapes of life, I suppose.