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Matinee Orchestra - Matinee Orchestra

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Artist: Matinee Orchestra

Album: Matinee Orchestra

Label: Arable

Review date: Mar. 5, 2006

When Andrew Hodson concocted the seamless collage of Matinee Orchestra, he foresaw a tributary of sound that surged across continents. Twenty-odd musicians arranged the pieces on the Orchestra’s first album, with Hodson, the main proprietor and founder, picking the parts and performers from a potpourri of genres that together give voice to wordless wisdoms and the age-old memories beholden unto growing up.

Remember how you felt when you finished first grade? For the first time, you understood the meaning of summertime. Suddenly swimming, popsicles, and bike rides gained a new meaning. And as you road around the block, streamers singing in the warm breeze, Matinee Orchestra performed at your neighbor’s lemonade stand.

The word “orchestra” conjures an image of many instruments played simultaneously, which then transgress to a powerful, thriving, classical reverberation. Matinee Orchestra manipulates the term; now an orchestra is a far-ranged coalition of 25 uniquely-minded and disparate musicians, combining efforts, creating a musical utopia. Sounds come from a harmonica, bells, violins, crickets, and children at a playground, among other mellow accompanists.

Laptop music, as the Orchestra is self-described, is an adequate categorization considering the way this album was constructed. Hodson explains that the field recordings and their storage on his computer technically throw his pride ‘n’ joy in that category. Upon greater reflection, though, laptop music fleshes itself out as an entire universe of sound, making anything possible, nearly all utterances becoming recordable and thus, as Brian Eno once sang on the album Another Green World, “everything merges in the night.”

That, in fact, is the very anthem of the Orchestra’s album: a union created through darkness. In ways, laptop music is the amalgamation of culture, custom, and people that would never before have connected. I have read editorials that denounce laptop music as emotionless, or aspiritual, which is in the eye of the beholder anyhow. This album has an indubitable pulse.

The nature recordings – the crickets, rain and streams, and, by a stretch, all the unadorned instruments operated upon – interconnect space and the profundity of all ages. These are observations not readily asserted in commonplace society. Youthfulness, as it is presented on this album, is historically stressed in all art forms. Youth is traced on every walkway, a repeated phase in the cyclical motion of life, one that is drawn and redrawn continuously. Matinee Orchestra rounds out into a pleasant cacophony of weathered artists, the singsongs of children playing hide ‘n’ seek, the wonders of nature, like music for daydreaming. This album is a river of influences, mapping out its own geography, belonging to no-one nation, instead purely to itself.

By Kate Hensley

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