Tuesday, January 25, 2011
A Crazy-Ass New LP from White Orange
Up until a couple of years ago, I used to include a category on my year-end Vinyl Anachronist articles for Perfect Sound Forever called "Coolest Vinyl Find of the Year." Well, I know it's only January 25, but I think we already have a winner for 2011.
A mysterious package arrived at my doorstep yesterday. Okay, I know Kaytea McIntosh from XO Publicity sent it to me, but this package was big and flat, and Kaytea usually sends me little silver discs that fit neatly into my mailbox. I sniffed the package carefully and immediately detected the fine, rich smell of vinyl. I was right. What didn't know, however, was that I had just received perhaps the most beautiful picture disc I've ever seen.
It's from a Portland band called White Orange. Other than a somewhat spare and enigmatic MySpace page, there isn't a lot of information on these guys. I do know from the album cover that Dustin Hill sings, plays guitar and writes all the songs while Dean Carroll plays the drums. Evidently there are two bassists--Ryan McIntire and Adam Pike (which is fairly unusual in itself). The album has been released by Made In China Records.
There isn't even a title for the LP; it simply says "White Orange performs '...and this is why I speak to you in parables' and 'middle of the riddle.'" But as you can see from the pics, this is a sumptuous, gorgeous vinyl LP with complex, amazing artwork.
The music is pretty cool, too...this is basically an EP with just one song per side, and it's the same song. "...and this is why I speak to you in parables" is a thirteen minute-plus epic that unravels slowly yet harshly like something from Godspeed! You Black Emperor! and then settles into a punchy, noisy psychedelic rock song that channels both Hot Tuna at its most abrasive and perhaps something more progressive and elegiac like Wishbone Ash. "Middle of the Riddle" is simply a more radio-friendly edit of the same song that last just a bit over five minutes. It's basically the central (i.e. the "middle") section that eschews the long build-up in the beginning and the long jam that leads to the fade-out.
The music is almost at odds with the mystical packaging. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what to expect until the needle hit those beautifully adorned grooves. While Hill's guitar is rather straightforward, stripped and raw, Carroll's drumming is full of thunderous fills that captures the exact momentum of the greatest acid rock drummers of the late '60s and early '70s. The two bassists are very entertaining as well, with plenty of subterranean bends and drop-offs.
I'm not sure when this LP will be available to the masses, but as long as it's not priced at a premium "audiophile" LP price, it's definitely worth picking up. (A little logo on the back on the cover says "Limited Edition of 500," so there are 499 left!) Obviously the artwork alone is worth it, but the lone song-and-a-half makes me want to hear more from this Stumptown quartet so I can figure out what they're about.
You can check out White Orange's MySpace page, however, where you can sample some of their other songs. That's what I'm gonna do. It's at http://www.myspace.com/whiteorangeband.