Pete Ardron the brain-child behind the band Orchid-Star has pooled together a collection of previously unreleased tracks featuring collaborations with artists and friends (which in many cases have shared his home) for this album. Additionally, there is a launch party at London’s Café Cairo this coming Friday with DJ support from Liquid Lounge & Sean Spindrift. So if you’re in the area and enjoy a melting pot of global, psychedelic and ambient sounds you may as well head over as it’s free entry too.
Those of you familiar with Orchid-Star will already be acquainted with Samantha Ray, an Australian whose operatic background works wonderfully when layered over dubbed acoustics on the opening piece ‘Beauty’. The following track ‘Vignette’ is an uplifting and melodic number featuring alluring Indian vocals (which I suspect are also provided by Samantha) and bamboo flute and appealed to me instantly. The album changes direction somewhat with ‘Bridges’ an ambient drum and bass hybrid featuring the spaced out electro-jazz of Onyx Ashanti (a American who is experimenting with future music technology who once called himself a musical cyborg) and the vocals of Myo (another long term member of Orchid-Star and former member of 80’s act True Life Confessions).
Next in line is the title track a lovely ambient piece awash with birdsong, flutes and the voice of Helen Francis (the first inclusion of someone whose not a professional artist) that would fit in well with any of the big ambient compilations such as Café Del Mar or Buddha Bar. Psibindi adds the vocals to ‘Mera Dil’ an exotic dub where at times the vocal sounds like a Sufi style and at others more like an Indian Dhrupad. The next track ‘Dhow’ begins with a sequence not a million miles away from Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ amongst the waves it then slows down and the looped strings, flutes, synth fx and Indian vocals take over.
The album continues with ‘Hasya’ a collaboration with singer/songwriter Teresa Gabriel (who has also collaborated with Sergio Walgood and warmed up for Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame) and flautist Harmony Yemanya. The piece itself is another ambient track focusing on the flute and dubbed out vocals with a bit of reggae underbelly in places. Then we come to the second track which includes a friend rather than a professional, where Sayak Mitra provides the vocal on a cover of a Bengali pop song ‘Ami Tar Thikana Rakhini’ and it works for me.
Teresa Gabriel makes another appearance on ‘Blue Sky Dreams’ where her dreamy vocals really can take your mind to the sky and drift away. The final track on the album ‘Baniyan’ retains the flutes and Indian vocal that are a common feature throughout this album but there’s more of a classical feel to the piece with an operatic vocal added to the melting pot.
The talent Pete has brought in for these collaborations is high quality and he continues to produce a unique fusion of world music, ambient, psychedelic, dub and classical sounds. This album will definitely appeal to fans of Orchid-Star and if your unfamiliar perhaps it’s time you enlightened yourself.
Reviewed by Woodzee
Note: Unexpected Pleasures is now available on CD for pre-order in the shop for the specially discounted price of £7.50 + p&p till Nov 3rd only (when it will go up to 9 or 10). CDs will be sent first class on the 3rd. BUT, if you come to the Unexpected Pleasures Album Launch Party you will get it even cheaper!