By Grady Cardiero
Halifax, UK band The Orielles wont let a year of cancelled gigs and quarantined rehearsals go to waste with their latest release, La Vita Olistica. The recording is a live rework of last year’s sophomore album, Disco Volador, which arrived in February to a burgeoning pandemic. This record is also slated to be the soundtrack to an avant-garde film starring the band, which is set to be released in select theatres this summer.
La Vita Olistica opens with a kick drum like a gut punch, which quickly finds its way into a familiar shuffle. As if to remind listeners that this is indeed a rework of “Comedown on Jupiter,” all the instruments soon fall into their right place, but each with a renewed fullness and grandness which sprung from the original. A guitar quivers, and the emerging piano rings out chords in conversation with a sparse bassline. The vocals enter, and the band swings the beat more languidly than before, which makes the rhythm changeup for the chorus all the more driven. At the outro, a clavinet groove faintly evokes Talking Heads’ classic “Burning Down the House.” The band then sails off and jams over the bassline for “Thrift Shop Cowboys,” an unforgettable moment on the original record, which absolutely merits its own track on this latest release.
Throughout the album, the transitions between tracks are effortlessly smooth, making it so that one can’t help but pine for a safe return to live shows as they listen. . It is not hard to imagine the band holed up in a rehearsal space during 2020, constantly preparing for a tour that will never happen, yet constantly stymied by multiple lockdowns and a seemingly unbothered government. Nevertheless, The Orielles thrive despite changeups. Seemingly unhindered by departing keyboardists and an unpredictable pandemic, this reworked album takes on a life of its own. Marta Sologni’s mix of Disco Volador was unforgettable, and this rework seems intent on balancing that high while honoring the feel of a concert hall. The stereo spread is beautiful, but more static than the original. The benefit of this, however, is that it grants the listener the ability to imagine each of the band members placed onstage.
Later, melodica swirls and blends with a wealth of textures and colors as the lyrics to “7th Dynamic Goo” take off. The bridge sifts through the song, and it’s groovy as hell. As the band are no strangers to remixing their songs, this record is a sample goldmine, too. It is a seamless blend of dozens of vibes and rhythms. Of the entirely new material on this release, though, “Voyages” is a standout. Backed by an easygoing, spacey rhythm section, the guitar wails through an inspiring, introspective instrumental. The piece flutters to a close as “Memoirs of Miso” picks up where it left off. This track was featured in the trailer for the upcoming film, and is one of a few short glimpses that outsiders have had into the depths of this project. Vignettes of simple life moments, shot with plenty of old school lens flares, seem to hang on to the inescapable loneliness of the time spent in quarantine. Even in this short clip, there are eyes twinkling with joy and wincing in pain. Perhaps “Memoirs of Miso” has grown into something different from what was captured in the studio well over a year ago.
One of the great joys of touring a new record is the improvements made by a band tightening up the same material night after night. That seems to be the purpose of this album, to not lock away Disco Volador as a closed chapter. If it has grown, which indeed it has, then the desire to re-record makes absolute sense. The band’s reluctance to be relegated to livestreams is also understandable — they felt that they couldn’t bring what they wanted to deliver to that format. Despite the odds, The Orielles still found another way to explore their own works with the depth and fullness often only afforded to relentlessly touring acts.
Keep up to date with The Orielles via their socials and watch the trailer for La Vita Olistica below.