I believe Hidden Orchestra's Joe Acheson is a rare talent. His production - this album - is a work of great insight and love, and as such falls easily into the listen on repeat category. The CD is more a journey than an album, as the title suggestions, into the realm of the night, possibly out of the city through the rain into the cold, dark wilderness. Nature's elements are beautifully woven throughout this album but in subtle and ingenious ways. Wetland warblers morph into scratch beats. Glockenspiel becomes raindrop. Or does it? Its up to you. Instruments compliment nature beautifully, such as the string crescendo after the beautiful song of the wren on The Windfall for instance, cultivating an image of a beautiful spring morning overlooking a partially sun-lit English garden.
I also love how the cello is given a starring role in various solo appearances, and how unlikely heroes appear throughout; french horns and cornets beguile. The range of instruments and their employment alongside natural samples offers intrigue throughout. I've no idea what a kantele, zither or low whistle look like but it all adds to the interest. New instruments are discovered on repeated listens.
Some of the tracks have so many complex layers of sound its hard to keep track of whats going on, even with a keen ear and a decent stereo but thats not a bad thing. Better to sit back, listen and enjoy than try to over-analyse. One eventually becomes immersed in wonderful, building, flowing soundscapes, perhaps a bit like clouds lifting and re-forming around the dark and beautiful Sound of Mull on the title cover.
Potential listeners may be aware of other great bands out there ending '... Orchestra' and wonder what Hidden Orchestra bring to the fold. I think Hidden Orchestra has a unique style and has found its own worthy ecological niche through the fusion of nature, complex rhythms and rich and involving soundscapes. Highly recommended.