Electric Orange "s/t"
(Delerium 1999, DELEC CD 042)
From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)
Electric Orange is led by Germany's Dirk Jan Müller who began playing classic Krautrock styled music, later indulging his interests in dance music, techno, and ambient. Just check out the instrumentation. Müller plays Hammond, Rhodes, clavinet, farfisa, mellotron, tape loops, synths, vibes, and percussion, and is joined by various guests on guitars, bass, drums, flute, and saxophone. This 2-CD set includes a re-release of the first Electric Orange album plus bonus tracks on disc two featuring Müller's dance and ambient explorations. Two very different sides of Electric Orange. All recordings seem to be from 1993-1994.
On disc one Electric Orange has the classic early 70's Krautrock instrumental down to a science. Tracks like "Reflections Of 2072 And Everywhere" and "Sysyphus's Revenge Parts I - X" are great spacerock, but with a jazz fusion edge like the best of bands like Amon Düül II, Embryo, Eela Craig, and countless others. The Hammond gives it a sound that recalls Deep Purple's lighter moments. "Journey Through Weird Scenes Featuring Cows In Space", "Soul Shadows", "Baby Cakewalk", and "Back In Strange Worlds" are great space jazz pieces with sax jamming over a spacerock groove. And Cakewalk and Strange World both utilize a bubbling synth style that gives it an Ozrics sound.
"The Return Of Eugene, Be Careful!"... now what do you suppose this is based on? Actually I pulled out my Ummagumma and gave Eugene a listen and Electric Orange's version is essentially a cover, but one that is just as freaked out and scary as Pink Floyd's. "Electripity Chapter XVI" is a good follow up to Eugene as it's a similarly spacey freakout with scary efx'd vocals and psychedelic guitar/organ jams.
On disc two Electric Orange explores dance and ambient interests that never stray from the space realm. "Borrowed Toothpaste Paranoia" features hippy hoppy dance beats but the instrumentation is the same giving us a total spaced out Krautrocking dance music. In fact, this has more spaced out guitar work than the first disc. On "Spacejunk" dance rhythms alternate with ambient soundscape moments, and the two mix well. Tribal percussion, psych guitar, and those voicings typically heard on techno albums are present. Note that this is not music you could dance consistently to and I'm not sure that is Müller's intention. What he does is incorporate dance and trip hop influences into the music so that it's only an element of the entire track. So you can trip out just as much as you can trip hop to this music.
On tracks like "Wet Rotation", "Verheerende Folgen", and "Krautwerk", Electric Orange explores world music ambient percussive soundscapes. Müller gets into minimalist territory where there is no groove. The focus is on percussion that plays a repeating, and only slightly changing, pattern accompanied by simple textured synth backgrounds. "Verheerende Folgen" is my favorite of these as it eventually develops into a soundscape dance number that even later turns into a dancable spacerock guitar freakout. Müller does a very interesting job of combining various styles. Finally, "Magick Case" and "Fairy Tale" are two offbeat vocal numbers that close the set. "Magick Case" is a playful collage tune that made me think of a psychedelic children's song. And "Fairy Tale" is a wild collage tune along the lines of Eugene with backward loops and various other psycho sounds.
Electric Orange do a great job of playing old time spacerock nostalgia on disc one, but I have to say that disc two is the more creative effort of the two. Both together make for a highly recommended package.
For more information you can visit the Delerium Records web site.
Delerium also has an Electric Orange web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz