This self-titled effort from Sydney’s Orion makes good on the group’s early promise with a collection of songs that resonate and startle with bristling energy and emotional authenticity.
Orion was birthed from collected fragments of Sydney’s concentrated punk scene, condensed and polished like gold emerging untarnished from dust and silt, or like a diamond forming from carbon after eons of tremendous pressure. The intensity of the the Sydney scene’s savagery eventually made way for the emergence of a group fuelled by the same raw magnetism, yet instilled with the desire to craft tender music with a greater amount of sonic clarity.
It’s safe to say that in some circles this album has been eagerly anticipated. Word of electric live shows and the drip-feeding of recorded work (a sparse amount to date) has created an undercurrent of excitement for this album from Orion, which has been released through Cool Death Records. Now that the record is in our hot little hands and has been given more than a few spins, it seems as if the waiting has been worthwhile. This self-titled effort makes good on the group’s earliest build-up with a collection of songs that resonate and startle with bristling energy and emotional authenticity.
In the most direct terms, Orion by Orion is an album of outsider post punk with a synthetic sheen, conveying inner turmoil and confusion as a result of tumultuous interpersonal relationships and constant self analysis. Several of the tracks featured on this album were released a few years back on a demo cassette through Paradise Daily Records, but first time listeners would be hard pressed to differentiate them on this recorded output, which undoubtedly has been refined and re-recorded for the sake of coherency. Indeed, the album is surprisingly coherent – even whilst varying from the frenetic maelstrom of opener ‘Church Bells’ (one of the most on-point choices for track numero uno in recent memory) to the purposefully bipolar synth wave of ‘After Day’ – it all fits, everything has its place.
The work has seen band members YMAXX (M.O.B. and Oily Boys), Dizzy (Oily Boys), S.Club and C. Nailer (Whores) collaborate with Laurence Williams of M.O.B. on the production side of things, instilling new life into the demos and giving birth to new tracks. Backed ably by a drum machine punching out echoed beats, the group twist their instruments around one another to create at times an impenetrable wave of sound, both enveloping and buoyant. The coiled guitar, the malleable bass and the heavy dousing of synth morphs and twists around YMAXX ‘s vocals on each track, leaving not a microsecond of wasted run-time.
Sterling musicianship aside, it’s the earnest vulnerability of the work that I find most engaging. Vocalist YMAXX has said that Orion is more centred on emotion compared to his other work and perhaps the shift toward a more earnest pop sound facilitated this. Throughout the record YMAXX muses on (from what I gather) the loss of things, the malaise of unhappiness (and the masks one wear to disguise this), the passing of time and finding one’s self in the fragments of a broken relationship. As always, I could be off base with these observations, but regardless of my interpretation Orion carries feeling through headphones and into my bloodstream. Their mood is my mood, their anguish mine and their hope as well.
Even in the deepest recesses of Orion by Orion there is something to grasp, and while many albums will come and go this year I am willing to put some money down that I’m still thinking about this album at year’s end. It’s that good.