“Orlando” is one of the most remarkable novels of the twentieth century, a post-impressionist masterpiece that also manages to be postmodern and post-feminist avant la lettre. In it, Virginia Woolf tells the tale of a child born into 16th-century Elizabethan aristocracy who undergoes a miraculous sex change while serving as ambassador in Constantinople, only to finally reappear after eighteenth- and nineteenth-century intellectual dalliances as a thirty-six-year old woman motoring through London in the Roaring Twenties. Abolishing fixed coordinates of time and space, genders and desires, Woolf frees Orlando from social convention and divulges some fundamental things about the ambivalence of existence. Independent of gender, time and history, “Orlando”, in the opinion of British author and critic Jeanette Winterson, suggests that committing to a single identity is an awful waste of half a life.
Fittingly then, this musical interpretation of the book is a split album, tracks alternating between con_cetta, an Italian gentleman who has assumed a feminine nom-de-musique, and countrywoman Marie e le Rose, who has chosen to record under the most generic of names. “Orlando” is an opulent, sensual novel, reveling in detail: “Chairs and tables, however richly gilt and carved, sofas, resting on lions’ paws with swans’ necks curving under them, beds even of the softest swansdown are not by themselves enough. People sitting in them, people lying in them improve them amazingly.” Orlando the “soundtrack” addresses us as if bemused by such headiness, with a deadpan meekness that masks secret correspondences – as Woolf did with a novel that was largely composed as a lover´s biography of bohemian aristocrat Vita Sackville-West.
Though the novel was written in great haste, Orlando the album is genteel, ambient parlor music, opening on a minor key, with guest Davide Lo Iacono trying to urge a faint smile out of the piano and a glockenspiel tickling the crystal clear air. Clear air that becomes infested with vinyl run-off crackle as MonoLogue sits down at the keyboard to perform a piece that evolves from proper Victorian decorum to the youthful energy of a new way of seeing and hearing. The duo´s pieces mesh seamlessly and interpose cleverly; the painstakingly balanced building blocks of MonoLogue´s piano on “Thirst for Knowledge (Flesh)” interlocking perfectly with the billowing curtain of “Ecce Homo” by con_cetta. “Procrastination of a Construction” opens with a music box tinkling out the last notes of “You Light Up My Life” before embarking on a lengthy magic carpet ride through curved air. Her colleague replies with “Woe and Lamentation”, equally light but grasping at fragments like the last looping wisps of fleeing memories. Like the novel, the album is lush in texture, whole cloth of abstracted emotions and associations in whose folds to get lost.
Time Released Sound comes by its name honestly – the availability of each new release is announced with the striking of a specific hour of the clock on a specific day – its latest, for example, “Sunday morning, May 11th, at 9AM, California time”. Each release is issued as a limited, fanciful art edition, usually accompanied by a run of handsome digipaks for us regular working stiffs.