How to Color a Thousand Mistakes
Morr Music
Includes Instant Download
morr 188-lp / Includes Download Code
Custom die-cut sleeve, incl. printed inner
Pre-Order: Available on / around Jul 19th 2024
morr 188-cd
Pre-Order: Available on / around Jul 19th 2024
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2Wrong Way to Fall
3Riptide 5:22
4Heaven's Despite
5Next Life 3:25
8Without Learning

Following a ten-year hiatus, multi-instrumentalists Rafael Anton Irisarri and Benoît Pioulard return with »How to Color a Thousand Mistakes«, their third LP together as Orcas. Building on the electronic minimalism of »Orcas« (2012) and the Twin Peaks-inspired haze of »Yearling« (2014), the duo have expanded their sound and vision into a full-spectrum ensemble.

In the time since their last major collaboration, Irisarri and Pioulard have done plenty on their own, while also traversing significant life changes: relocation from Seattle to New York, separation and divorce, illness, hospitalizations, and the loss of siblings, parents, and friends. Yet from these tribulations, they gleaned inspiration to reconstruct their lives, creating music with new collaborators and partners. Recorded in a variety of studios and cities including Brooklyn, Cambridge, Oxford, Seattle, and upstate New York, the resulting album, under the tutelage of UK producer James Brown (Arctic Monkeys, Kevin Shields, Nine Inch Nails), is a patiently-crafted beast, equally inspired by impressionism, British new wave, and dream pop.

With Irisarri’s guidance and Brown’s encouragement, Pioulard brings his velvety voice to its harmonized peak on songs like »Wrong Way to Fall« and the Durutti Column-indebted »Fare«. Where his most recent solo albums for Morr Music (»Sylva« and »Eidetic«) navigated foggy forests of ambient pop and stacked tape loops, here his characteristic blur shifts into focus with a unique degree of clarity and confidence. »How fare against balance do I / Navigate my errors?«, Pioulard sings in a heartbreaking tenor, echoing the album’s broader themes of introspection, grief, loss, trial and trauma.

Lead single, »Riptide«, is a summary of Pioulard’s life changes and personal upheavals in the past decade, »flitting eastward toward a yen deep in the past« and learning to glide through the tumult of ocean waves, as a metaphor for the punches one takes in pursuit of grace. Its towering, key-changing midsection arrives with the monumental drumming of Slowdive’s Simon Scott, a long-time friend and cohort who appears on most songs in the set. Scott’s quintessentially English, jazzier approach offers a balance of force and restraint as the backdrop for Irisarri’s majestic guitars, analog synth lines, and Martin Heyne’s Fender Rhodes counterpoints.

Second single, »Next Life«, began as a sketch by Scott, and reached its final form in the hands of Pioulard and Irisarri, at a point that each had endured major concurrent losses, finding a commonality in the need to gaze over the horizon while acknowledging the unavoidable bittersweetness of letting go – not only of people, but of routines, places, and expectations. It’s one of Orcas’ most nuanced pieces, with a mid-tempo, sunset glow that unfolds into a sparkling, slide-guitar finale as it disappears in the rear view.

On third-act highlight, »Bruise«, Scott is doubled on the drum kit by MONO’s Dahm Majuri Cipolla, whose Liebezeit-influenced metronomy anchors a nimble bass groove from Andrew Tasselmyer (of Hotel Neon), and some of the album's most syncopated, spaced-out interplay, courtesy of Puerto Rican guitar player Orlando Méndez (a childhood friend of Irisarri’s). Originally a droney, fingerpicked guitar demo, »Bruise« is the most storied composition here, having gone through almost a dozen versions and lyrical edits, with Brown distilling hours of improvised performances into the final arrangement.

Throughout »How to Color a Thousand Mistakes«, Irisarri uses his deep well of production experience to paint the stereo field with meticulously designed textures, exemplified on the slow burn of »Heaven’s Despite« and the heady rush of »Swells«. As a mixing and mastering engineer with Black Knoll, he has built a client list that reads as a who’s-who of modern, forward-thinking composition, including Temporary Residence, All Saints Records, and Ghostly International, among many others.

As with previous collaborations, Irisarri and Pioulard bring disparate styles and specialties to the table, but with an interpersonal dynamic that transcends friendship into brotherhood, their open-minded workflow and mutual respect are evident at every turn. »How to Color a Thousand Mistakes« brims with tight, complex art rock songwriting, masterful production, and sonic versatility, informed by a plethora of genres and tonal hues. The title might promise answers, but the gravitational center of the album is the dawning realization that, as you reckon with the infinite whims of the cosmos, there could be none.