Orbit Stern & Q: These Open Waters
Release date: 15-09-2017
With These Open Waters, Orbit Stern & Q melt musical boundaries while also saying something timely and urgent about the distances that keep us apart as human beings.
At times, this release sounds as bright and inviting as '80s synth pop. Look closer, though: Hauch's general preference for rhythmic consistency is colliding head-on with Hällkvist's guitar lines lurking at the edges like intricate cobwebs not quite visible in the sun (threads of notes unfolding in the vein of Andy Summers or Robert Fripp), and in between this, Wikström is navigating the boundaries between pop and experimentation with a tightrope walker's balance. The outcome is a band that has an affinity for both honoring the musical styles they touch on while transporting those styles to a place we've never quite heard them go before.
In this case, all three set their sights on the water...
When Wikström and Hauch originally started writing lyrics, they had a set of characters in mind -- namely,
a family of immigrants to northern Europe. Those characters and storylines receded somewhat in favor of more less explicit imagery. However, the shadowy outlines of those original stories reveal themselves in larger perspectives of escape and refuge, distances and uniting through the use of water as the matter of subject: water simultaneously unites and separates, it can serve as both a barrier and as a path, providing the perfect symbol for everything this album expresses.
It says a lot that Orbit Stern's new album represents both a radical departure and a seamless progression from the Copenhagen duo's debut, 2014's Ude i skoven, inde i byen (Boogie Post Recordings). There's always been a yin-yang dynamic at the heart of Orbit Stern. Never has this been more apparent than on These Open Waters, where Hauch and Hällkvist make a transition from the sound of their last album with an almost alarming display of agility, together with Qarin Wikström, that draws new expressions out of both.
"Orbit Stern & Q is navigating a musical sea where maps have not yet been drafted, yet it feels like the group knows where it's heading. There is a goal and it is breaking norms and moving boundaries." (Dala-demokraten, SE)
"In a better, just world the songs of Orbit Stern & Q songs would have become radio hits. Songs like «5.59», «Matching Patterns» – with guitar riffs that pay homage to Police’s Andy Summers – and «The Distance», with Hauch in an update of Neil Young’s «Transformer Man», lure you immediately into their suggestive atmosphere. The unsettling, restless sonic envelope of other songs like «Sidewalk Riverbed», «The River» and «Competition Day» stresses even more «These Open Waters» imagery about the urgent need to melt boundaries, geographical as well as musical.
One of the most surprising releases of 2017." (SaltPeanuts, Eyal Hareuveni)