AMN Reviews: Two From Orenda Records

Orenda Records is a young label that is out-performing its age. With notable releases from Daniel Rosenboom, Burning Ghosts, Falsetto Teeth, Nathan Hubbard, Gavin Templeton, Jon Armstrong, Jonathan Rowden, the Weston / Saxon Groove Assembly, and many others, Orenda is establishing itself as a go-to resource for a younger group of musicians from the west coast that fall on various points of the rock / jazz / free improv / modern composition continuum. Below, we discuss two of the label’s most recent offerings.


Sound Etiquette – Sound Etiquette (2016; Orenda Records)

This trio’s most obvious influence seems to be early 70’s Miles Davis. With a signature electronic sound that harkens back to the analog nature of that era, Sound Etiquette powers through eight gritty improvisations. Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, each of the musicians (Nick Obando on sax, Eli Wallace on keyboards, and Aaron Levin on drums) has plenty of room to stretch out and make their own statements.

But the album is best viewed as a group effort, and one with a great deal of affinity. Wallace provides not only leads but thick low-register chording, and echoing effects. Obando solos freely on top, making use of extended techniques, while Levin provides a grounding for the other two in between his own more explosive efforts. Given the album’s rawness, the overall feel can approach Sun Ra territory from time to time, but also a meandering modern jazz. The release date is December 9.


Alexander Noice – Music Made With Voices (2016; Orenda Records)

Guitarist Noice steps away from his instrument of choice to electronically compose eight tracks for human voice. The catch here is that each track is based on manipulations of a single note sung by eight different people. These notes are processed, cut, and pitch-shifted, and these results are mixed with one another in various patterns. The repetitions therein form the “songs,” recordings that are likely unrecognizable from the source material. Each paints an highly-abstract portrait of the singer as Noice puts together sequenced runs, undulating tones, and staccato motifs into complex rhythms and themes. Comparisons? Maybe Paul Lansky‘s Idle Chatter series. But Noice is less academic and more assertive. One of the more unique and enjoyable pieces of weird music that I’ve heard this year.