Personnel: Baba Rossa (vocals, guitar); Mos Iocos (vocals, synthesizer, percussion); EtonalE (vocals, carillon).
Audio Mixers: Mike Gibson; Riki Gooch; Orchestra of Spheres.
Recording information: Meow, Wellington (01/2015); Pyramid Club, Wellington, New Zealand (01/2015); Meow, Wellington (12/2014); Pyramid Club, Wellington, New Zealand (12/2014).
Orchestra of Spheres' hand-crafted fusion of prog rock, psychedelia, indie rock, and world music continues to baffle and impress on their third album, 2016's Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon. Rhythm is the one hard and fast rule that Orchestra of Spheres observe, and they take on something a bit different on each track. "Trapdoors" and "Walking Through Walls" are built around mutated Juju and Afro-beat patterns. "Anklung Song" lopes along at a fuzzy hard rock 4/4. "In the Face of Love" and a reworking of Sun Ra's "Rocket #9" boast potent electronic beats suitable for the dancefloor (though hardly the stuff of the usual club mix). "Let Us Not Forget" glides easily along over beds of droning synthesizers. "Cluster" is an extended exercise in space rock, complete with an epic guitar solo. And "The Reel World" brings a subtle, subdued Latin flavor to the album. Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon jumps around enough stylistically that the album sometimes seems to lack a strong central identity, but Orchestra of Spheres at least appear firmly committed to their own brand of sonic eccentricity, generally sounding playful without turning the music into a joke. And the group's instrumental technique is impressive throughout, especially given the thematic shape-shifting that goes on throughout the album's 11 tracks, especially guitarist Baba Rossa, drummer Tooth, and Mos Iocos on keyboards. All the more impressive, most of the album was recorded on-stage at a club in Wellington, New Zealand, confirming that the group can play music with this complexity and imagination live in one go, no small accomplishment. Orchestra of Spheres could stand to tighten up some of their longer pieces and give their next album more of a musical through-line, but Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon is clearly the work of a profoundly gifted band, and they've created something honestly fascinating on this album. ~ Mark Deming