Updated: Apr 30
On April 10th 2020, New Wave Records released Orax's new album : FILM.
This mark's his fourth album release from NWR, and upon first glance, the eerie cover art of a phantom maiden drew me in close to satisfy my curiosity. I knew that this was going to be my next review - and I couldn't look away from the opportunity.
I promptly emailed Orax directly, and requested to write a review on the album and have it published here on Cyber Drive Radio : The Blog.
He accepted ; and I am here to deliver on that promise.
It's time to unfold the allure of mystery. I hope you're sitting down and have your preferred music application open to listen to FILM right now while reading this article.
The second you hit the play button on Orax’s debut album – FILM, you’re transported to a feeling rather than a place. A point of no return. “Regrets” opens another door to intention despite consequence. However, in this moment, what is most important is the way that the bass hits you, like igniting a torch that illuminates your innermost thoughts. With every beat, you’re met with a euphoric tension. The rise boils over and flows into a chasm of doubtless indulgence. Orax makes the binary arc of sound ceaselessly intoxicating. I am met with a series of intricacies within its embrace. Orax’s sound, while decipherable, is intangible, in that it stands alone as a pillar of notable influence. We call it many names; but despite the title “Regrets”, this track has left me with the opposite; the selfish bliss of listening on repeat.
The musical scenery changes when Orax fuses two components together – a grunge guitar riff, and his melodic synth keys. He plays to an unfolding story. He narrates with lack of words replaced by this untypical upbeat track. The resounding chords between these two instruments is orchestral, and to be perfectly honest, a surprisingly warm welcome. We can reflect on the hard-hitting beats of the past, like “Presence” and “Missing”, but “Above” stands apart from all of the rest. The reverb of the guitar with each peak guiding us to the next phase of this musical chapter. Introducing us to an even more unusual side of Orax that we've only just encountered.
Orax has an obscure approach with “Land of Crosses”. You seek refuge in the heavy bass as it accelerates into punching percussion. I haven't settled on the mental vision for this track. Part of me thinks Western, another thinks Blues. Either way, this track is executed in ways only Orax can pull off. I enjoy the playfulness of this song, and I am further intrigued to understand the roots of it. My imagination turns to a strange land with no name, where cowboys are chased by a bounty hunter on a steel horse. Don’t ask why – just listen to the song and let your visions be your guide. This is a prelude to a plot that invites a “gunfight on the Mars frontier with outlaws from outer space” vibe. Soon enough, you realize this track hits so hard it slaps you back down into your seat. Check your lofty imaginations at the door.
Do you know what ectoplasm is? If you don’t – I will tell you briefly. It is the occurrence of spiritual activity in the form of a physical substance that emerges from a bodily orifice. Why did I explain this? It’s just a track title. The ghoulish cover art plays a role in "Ectoplasmic" in terms of horror-aesthetic. Orax exploits this with his ghostly phantasmic whispers in your ear, mixed with an assertive bass guitar, and vibrant strings as placeholders to the supernatural. This recipe of sensuality comes unhinged in the presence of the harbinger. I love the unnerving , fast-paced tension, the ghostly vibes, and the cover art to match makes this a perfect pairing for a diabolical possession I’m delightfully willing to take part in.
The track titles just get ever more interesting as the album continues. With a title like “Coma” we can envision what it must be like in the mind of a body that is unable to awaken. I prefer to listen to the dreamy echoes of the piano, and the reverse entryways and exits of chords trailing towards and away those layers of sound. The mimicry of an ambulance towards the end of the track is irreversibly haunting. The melodic dissonance of an out-of-body experience. The existentialism of When, Where, and How “Coma” came to be. I wanted to know what Orax is going through or has gone through. I wanted to know more, even if it wasn't possible.
Orax compiles a serenity of classic and originality in this next track. I remember when I first heard his music, and how entranced I was in the groove of his compilations. “Miriam’s Night” has that effect on me. I’m reminiscing on what it feels like to distinguish emotion within each track, because it’s what he does best. What starts out as a less complex and simplistic beat, is overcome by the emotive waves of neatly placed keys and harpsichords on memory lane. There is a message here; a message we can only decipher through Orax in his harmonic cues in storytelling fashion.
In my deep reflection, I’m realizing undertones of this story and its correlation with the current timeline. We’re living in a time of great tragedies, and the way Orax encompassed this in one way or another feels not so distant. It may just be my own personal observation, but the theme of a dystopian undertaking is recurrent and engages with the mysteries of the unknown. He dwells into the slowly encroaching harmony. It reaches a flatline; and in its place we’re introduced to the darkness of our ravenous instincts.
This aggressive undertaking is everything we could hope for. Orax portrays this track as a funky dark-synth modular whirlwind and we are taken for a ride. It engages in genres unlocked but not often merged, and we find the surprise of satisfaction. The flow braces for impact at a trap-like crescendo, then speeds up into a trance-induced wave. Then, just when you think you have the song figured out you hear that saxophone. It’s been sorely missed, and what a reunion this is. It’s over too soon. This is a sad farewell, until we meet again.
Up front and personal comes a track that seems to lure you towards an upbeat trill. It’s echoing pitch takes a dive into dark spaces and stirs the mind before you can devolve what theme to articulate. The lyre becomes part of the bass, while the electric chimes land on the beat. The crackle and roar of fire accompanies a vision of gently glowing cinders fading towards the ending of the track. Soon extinguished, all we have left is the imprint of what is left behind; a renewal of Orax’s sound that defies order and expectations.
I don’t like to play favorites, but I think this track highlights all of the best qualities that Orax inherently possesses. The driving point is the acceleration of chords. It evolves into the true nature we’re fond of from previous releases while ushering in a new age of his musical prowess. Orax progressively defines his music by the roads he’s paved, synth locked and loaded to dominate the next destination, the next challenge, the next frontier of creation. This album, while it has its differences, is a stand-alone banger that embraces the Orax sound we’re accustomed to. No matter how familiar, it shows his talented flexibility in numerous fashions within FILM.
A surprise is rewarded at the end of the album, with a quote by Tennyson that I will share with you.
“Never, oh! never, nothing will die?
The stream flows,
The wind blows,
The cloud fleets,
The heart beats,
Nothing will die.”
This piece is called “Nothing Will Die” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
You can read its entirety here.
I feel that this sample was used to highlight the tone of this album, and possibly underlying feelings of what the world is enduring right now during the Covid-19 pandemic. The world IS changing, and life itself changes. “Nothing Will Die” reminds us that with each casualty leads the world to the next result of discovery. Depending on your belief system – this message can mean anything. I can only go by what it felt to hear it, and then to read it, and absorb the words, write them down, and give you the source so that you too may find your own definition.
Orax dealt us a heavy hitter of an album – and in the journey of listening to it, I come away with feelings of deep satisfaction. It truly forces ideas to come afloat when listening to music that has no words. It fits to what you’re thinking or feeling and becomes the soundtrack of your life as it is right now or what you imagine it to be. I love this album, and I embrace the array of emotion that is harbored within its tracks. Thank you for giving the world your music, Orax, it has been a treasured gift and we’ll always be hungry for more.
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