Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is the grandest, deepest work to date by Polish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist and composer Ela Orleans. The seventh album under her own name, Orleans' expansive vision, loosely based on Dante's Inferno but infused with deep personal experience, incorporates sound art, orchestral textures, synth pop and electronic music to construct a world equally peppered with loss and inspiration. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell pulls all the strands of Orleans' previous work together, an epic depiction of turmoil wide in scope but reveling in detail. From her beginnings inaugurating a lo-fi, homespun sound that has since developed fully into a language uniquely her own, from tentative live outings featuring multiple instruments to a now-masterly command of sound, Orleans has become one of the most consistently surprising musicians of the global underground. "Circles" documents Ela's research into dark sonic interiors and a far more personal approach to conventional songwriting. Previously, Orleans' sonic textures have relied on samples cleaved out of context, buried songs beneath warped aural gauze, but Circles blows every element of Orleans' art upwards and further apart. Circles begins with a masterful, sparse composition, The Gate, that instantly showcases the expert mastering by Jon Brooks before melting into You Go Through Me (featuring Stephen and Katrina from The Pastels), one of the most direct, aching pop moments. Ghost and Whispers is a hit from another universe, a sparkling propulsion instantly recognizable as an Ela Orleans composition; light of touch and almost unbearably, ghostlily human. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is an honest portrayal of a descent; be it personal or metaphorical and there are times, like on the minimal, string-led Tower, when the listener feels submerged, alienated from comfort. Through-out there's a massive, cinematic scope to the album, rumbling synth textures escalating into celestial harmonies, the stereofield sparkling with sound, shimmering melodies crackling with the sort of pathos that Ela has made her recognisable trademark. It's a weighty journey, pitched aurally between Ghost Box records and a mournful classicism, drawing references from literature and autobiography. Cirlces... is really without parallel in Orleans? discography, though its most obvious sister record, 2015's Upper Hell, gave some streamlined, carved-up hints at Circles Of Upper Hell's majesty. Orleans' previous work has always suggested threads, blurred ghost-ideas from an artist always growing. In 2016 Orleans has mastered her craft completely, never heavy-handed but deftly handling themes of loss, chaos, documenting personal journeys sometimes arduous with an ever-deeper understanding.
Ela Orleans: Circles Of Upper And Lower Hell
The Gate Ela Orleans 01' 12''
You Go Through Me Ela Orleans 03' 44''
Charon Ela Orleans 03' 14''
Styx Ela Orleans 00' 42''
Hands In Dark Ela Orleans 04' 13''
Sensation Ela Orleans 04' 24''
Threshold Ela Orleans 00' 37''
Circle One Ela Orleans 04' 24''
Sunlit Hill Ela Orleans 03' 45''
Abyss Ela Orleans 03' 27''
Tower Ela Orleans 02' 58''
Beatrice Ela Orleans 03' 22''
Calaphas Ela Orleans 01' 10''
The Great Barrier Ela Orleans 05' 24''
Ghosts And Whispers Ela Orleans 04' 00''
Thorn Tree Ela Orleans 00' 38''
The Heretics Ela Orleans 05' 14''
Centaurs Ela Orleans 01' 15''
Minotaur Ela Orleans 00' 28''
Dionysus Ela Orleans 05' 45''
Ring Two Ela Orleans 03' 06''
Geryon Ela Orleans 00' 28''
Phlegethon Woods Ela Orleans 05' 31''
The Burning Sand Ela Orleans 01' 18''
The Well Ela Orleans 02' 40''