The Orphnē of myth – Hellenic at least – was a dweller of the Stygian underworld and mother of Ascalaphus, whom Persephone turned into an Owl, later to become the familiar to the king of the Underworld, Hades. Such darkness undoubtedly embellishes the work of the titular heroine of this series of works, the Orphnē of the album’s title.
Yet images of darkness and desolation only furnish part of the musical landscape. As with any piece of art, the dynamic between light and dark, good and evil or even yin and yang only becomes apparent by viewing the full picture. So, in Orphnē, the darkness of a piece like The Abattoir is offset beautifully by the delicate dreamscape found within As Above So Below. Thus is balance and equilibrium attained.
Elements of jazz composition are found in the piece Mormo and the Well; piano and strings weave complex figures behind the vocals redolent of twenties Paris; this is the Paris of Ravel, and it is Ravel that appears in other places within Orphnē. An intriguing eminence for sure, yet one who fits the air of Dada that also influences the artist. It is not difficult to imagine the music contained within Orphnē being performed in the Bohemian cafes of the French capital between the wars; the sensuousness of closing piece Epoxy Bonds especially arouses thoughts of the Pigalle in all it’s seething, earthbound delerium.
The artist responsible for this collection, Amaya López-Carromero, has created a playground of the senses with her compositions that is at times playful, at others sinister; the listener’s emotional response will be as richly varied as the music placed before them. Full appreciation of the work requires work on the part of that listener; López-Carromero’s ability to evoke must be watched by the audience’s ability to receive and absorb that which is being transmitted. When both parties are in true harmony, then the true musical nirvana of Orphnē can be unlocked.
Orphnē is out now.