Boomkat Product Review:
Reissue of incredible ‘lost’ post-punk recordings c.1979-1983 from the mysterious Orior, a huge influence on Demdike Stare. Original tape masters baked and restored by Andy Popplewell, mastered and Cut by Matt Colton.
DDS keep everyone on their toes with Orior’s previously unheard and revelatory batch of bleak and brooding post-punk experiments, recorded in London and recently salvaged from an attic somewhere in the South East.
Orior’s sole 7” release, the Elevation EP (1979) for the obscure Crystal Groove label, was the root of a mutual obsession for Demdike’s Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty, whose hunter/collector instincts were piqued by rumours of an unreleased LP by this little known artist.
Taking a punt, they sent a letter to an old address supplied by Frank Maier - whose V-o-D label issued an Orior track on the Snatch Paste compilation - and received a reply from a very surprised but helpful Jeff Sharp, who was credited as “Clip” on the original 7”. To cut a story short, Jeff supplied some pretty knackered tapes dug from his attic, that were subsequently baked by Andy Popplewell (who does a lot of the Finders Keepers bits), who told Miles there was “pure gold” on them there tapes.
And he wasn’t wrong, the material is indeed breathtaking, in some respects typical of the era - lots of drum machine experiments and so on, but also possessed of a totally unexpected character: there are moments that recall the dense atmospheric pieces of Angelo Badalamenti or Lynch’s Eraserhead OST, at other times it sounds like Vangelis at his most evocative or like prototypes for a Coil record (who wouldn’t emerge until at least a few years later), as much as the studio-as-instrument emissions of Bruce Gilbert and co’s Dome studio, or even some darkside version of Hassell & Eno’s 4th World ambience.
It never ceases to amaze us how much great music lies beyond the periphery, in the margins, and Strange Beauty should be considered a prime example of that unknown realm. It’s a revelatory set of recordings that, were it not for some resourcefulness and an awful lot of good fortune, would have just rotted away in an attic somewhere in England. Lucky for us, we can now hear it in all its expansive glory, spread across two meticulously curated LP’s on this wonderful label.