Among the collectives on the vibrant Manchester scene, The Orielles is the one that chooses the middle way between travelling to the past and reaching out to the future. The video of 7th Dynamic Goo, from their second album, Disco Volador, depicts the band members placed in a cyberpunk computer game context. With the song itself, equally alluding to Curtis Mayfield and Lush, the visuals reveal another side of the band’s artistic endeavour: “We always try to escape – there are many things to escape from – it could be our home town, or something in ourselves.”
My conversation with the band followed The Orielles’ early morning return to Manchester from London where they had had a gig. Slightly fatigued, the drummer Sidonie B Hand-Halford and guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade admitted that intensive touring inevitably impacts the way their music is produced: “A lot of our material was written during soundchecks, rehearsals and sometimes even gigs, because we have been touring so much,” says Henry. “I think we have always been quite a ‘jammy’ band though. We jam a lot to get the juices flowing.”
Indeed, such melodic fluidity and collage-like texture can be born out of spontaneity rather than deliberate songwriting. Yet, there is a structure. The Space Samba track on Disco Volador is a bouncy sequence of arpeggiated instrumental parts and a recurring verse, featuring the somewhat spaced-out vocals of Esmé Dee Hand-Halford. “We literally try to discuss the song. After the disco hats, we go to the ride, then to bongo bits and then back to hi-hats.”
Their approach to music conjures up a film-making process. In fact, the band have been attempting to interpret visual scenes from movies, whether real or imaginary, with their music: “Funnily enough, we used to write a lot of our music to films: we would have a projector in our practice room, where we would play films. We extended scenes with our music, we would write music to the visuals. We did that for a long time. Because it was just the space that we had at that time and that was perfect for the process of writing music with a film in mind. We were into a lot of soundtracks and cinematic music. We liked to extend the sound with visual ideas, and vice versa, when we were jamming.”
Attuned to visual arts, The Orielles recently released La Vita Olistica, a soundtrack to an eponymous film, created by and starring the band members. Featuring a few songs from Disco Volador, the compilation presents their cinematic versions, setting forward oscillating keyboards and wall-of-sound-like texture. Retrospective and futuristic at once, the compilation brings to mind Phil Spector’s girl groups, as well as contemporary avant-pop such as Stereolab. Yet, The Orielles deny the idea of sticking to a particular time frame. “We imagined it having been recorded in the 70s, but released now – the way the bands around the 70s would anticipate 2020,” says Sidonie.
“Manchester has got an incredibly proud history. Everyone lets history repeat itself a lot in this city. So it is past-oriented,” adds Henry. “I do know some really great bands and people do really great work, but I think, if you listen to a lot of the bands in the area, they are just a modern version of what was around in the 70s. We try to go beyond that. I think it’s too easy to become a cliché.”
The Orielles will be performing at FestEvol in Liverpool on the August 14th. The tickets are available here.
All words by Irina Shtreis. More of her Louder Than War writing can be found here.