Andrew Sherwell – Orthodox Tales

By the time that you are reading this, physical copies of this album have already sold out. Written and produced by Andrew Sherwell, ‘Orthodox Tales’ delivers six tracks of delicate, haunting, ambient beauty. The album was officially released via Harry Towell’s Whitelabrecs on Sunday, January 21st, and although this may be my fourth listen to through the album, it took only one to realise why ‘Orthodox Tales’ had all but sold out completely on the day of its release. Sherwell’s work is sombre, mournful, and deeply reflective, yet still manages to be uplifting. The album is inspired by the stories of Sherwell’s grandfather, who’s widespread travels during the inter-war period (1918-1939) became bedtime tales for the youngster. Carefully crafted, a combination of field recordings, tape loops, synthesized tones, sampled sound sources and well-thought processing, ‘Orthodox Tales’ guides the listener through imagined adventures of awe and mystery; the ‘Cathedral Doze’, for example, creates an immersive sense of movement from one place to another: combination of omnipresence and relocation rarely achieved with such effectiveness.

The album does tread in ominous territory; the album’s penultimate track, ‘A Mesultane’s Flight’, demonstrating the lower registers of manipulated source materials, creatively exploiting the warped imperfections of sounds processed out of their comfort zone. The use of field recordings throughout the album is applied masterfully, creating a momentary sense of time, although somewhat perennial as they reverberate into the distance rather than into nothingness. During the closing track, ‘Beware Koschei’s Visit’, I was taken off guard and deeply moved by the emotional tension Sherwell achieves; the final track producing some of the more experimental approaches to cinematic music and spatial expressiveness heard within the contemporary ambient scene.

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