Orphax | Saxophone Studies
Moving Furniture Records (LP/CD/DL)
Released in a week’s time comes a recording years in the making from Amsterdam’s Orphax (Sietse van Erve). Saxophone Studies consists of two lengthy electronic compositions (titled after the sax players’ initials) that are minimal and atmospheric – but the type where you may want to secure your seatbelt. Based on samples taken from saxophone recordings by James Fella (Soft Shoulder / Gilgongo Records) and Jozef van Erve this becomes, at times, an elongated wash of tones, and at others a test of near implausible endurance.
The distant ween of a consonant, pitchy drone grows closer as he opens with JF. A second layer enters into this atonal fusion that begins to set off a bit of an alarm. It’s far from easy listening, though when the two layers mirror each other it’s plays with the barriers of consciousness. It is as if you are starting to hear things that couldn’t possibly be there like the impressions left upon a shroud. An impression, yes, this creates and leaves one in its repetition, in its wake. It’s an elusive five alarm fire, lost in translation. At times the way in which Orphax has treated the instrument starts to sound (or trick the mind into thinking) as if it’s a set of bagpipes – wind instruments all I guess. A warbling, acoustic metamorphosis, before our ears. The final three minutes, where things just start to come down from its high, starts to feel quite deceptive in its retreat. The drone sort of howls softly away.
JvE is quite different and a bit more of a building, rounded, buzzing drone. After the initial few minutes the altitude of this becomes ominous. van Erve has made something that has an intense feeling of containment. As it hovers with a slight awkwardness I’m imagining a wasp being mic’d, only to be amplified like a fighter jet. The agitated drone just has the keenest sense of low impact reverb creating this illusion. By ten minutes in the outer layers start to peel away like the thin tunic of an onion. What slowly reveals itself is a sensitive (yet still robust) minimal ambient work. If you are seeking melody, bend your ears back, as this is a study in the essence of tone. Like an everlasting foghorn at dusk, this transient, hypnotic work bellows into a multilayered, sensory oblivion.