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Review: Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra

Jordan Ireland - Cone Magazine

Jordan Ireland continues to develop his dynamic approach to ambient-folk with his first self-titled release, accompanied intangibly by the Purple Orchestra.

The antipodean pocket of the world may know Jordan Ireland from the northern Queensland folk outfit The Middle East. For just a pack of ‘naive country kids’, they blew up fast in the face of a music-hungry Aussie audience, but soon disbanded after the release of their first album. Their textured, ethereal approach to folk, however, was carved out through years of playing as a musical fraternity, incorporating a myriad of styles within their work.

As with Ireland’s previous solo work under Stolen Violin, his compositional flare is instantly recognisible. He enchants through prose but also offers instrumental accompaniment as a gateway to escapism. This sentiment could ground itself in comfort or disdain, but it would always captivate. His latest self-titled effort, releasing on Spunk! Records comes as the result of two years spent recording at his home studio just outside of Melbourne. The process saw Ireland methodically build layers of intricate details to produce nine densely airy songs that change with each listen.

Opener ‘No Place For Rain’ sets the precedent for the record: at its core, acoustic compositions sat atop a bed of charming orchestral sounds that flutter in and out of being. Soft bursts of flute accompany resonant cello as Ireland’s calming lyrical labyrinths guide us through undefined pathways. ‘Life In Circles’ acts as the album’s natural interlude, offering a playful arrangement of woodwind and strings that evoke imagery of a woodland retreat. The sampling of chirping birds form a natural vocal orchestra to the murmurings of Ireland and the overall feeling of suspension felt through the track.

‘East Coaster’ comes off as a deeply considered cacophony, led by textured finger-picking and the vocal ethereality of his own soft-spoken verse and the accompaniment of a female that drifts in and out. It could be a song about home just as much as a memory of a place in passing. The rugged mountain coast that stretches down this part of the country could be seen as a natural frontier to the wider world, or perhaps its isolation in a global sense renders it with an elusiveness unseen by most.

So, just who is Ireland’s Purple Orchestra? Does it take the form of the murmuring melodies or intermittent tribal percussion as heard in ‘Ceremony in Purple’? Languishing in the possibilities of the irresolute, Ireland claims that the “the birds, the air and the [purple] mood” were all actives members of the ensemble. It doesn’t come often that commonly intangible substances or feelings can evoke such a visual response, but With Purple Orchestra does just that. It has its roots in many fields, but at the same time seems bound by none.

Jordan Ireland With Purple Orchestra releases on January 18th via Spunk! Records.

Words by Mike Robertson




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