The archival ambient sceptre has to go to Orior this month, whose 1979-1983 tapes have been dug up and made to sound and look as ambrosial as they should by our friends Demdike Stare, who cite this obscure English project as an influence on their own work. Guided by a luscious, dense weave of post-punk and ambient, Strange Beauty is a collection of heterogeneous soundscapes, each soaring into a different sonic and emotional aspect of the early 1980s. While Orion’s only previous release, a 1978 EP called Elevation is a delicious little morsel of a record, it did not prepare us for such a perceptive and richly textured lost catalogue.
On these tapes, Orior move between electrified chords over slo-mo sirens (“EOS”) and neuro-robotic rattlings (“Earth Rhythm”), from eerily echoed piano pieces (“The Other Side”) to ominous metallic drones (“From View”). But there’s much more depths and more surprises: sparkles of Chinatown bells, the odd Kosmische-imbued synthesised comet, a deep mastery of jagged industrial textures. One track to pull you in might be “Dust Glow,” where a heavy goth drumbeat sustains a rich layering of languid electric guitars, punctured here and there by dark synthlines and a neo-romantically urban saxophone. Strange Beauty lives up to its title, containing the dusty freshness of an ambient pearl and the murky half-light of a dark punk aesthetics – a rarefied, odd atmosphere that might just reveal itself as a long-term favourite.