After a recent period spent focusing on sound art installations, collaborations, and video game scoring, Joe Acheson’s Hidden Orchestra project returns with a new album titled “To Dream Is To Forget” set for release on September 22, 2023. Today second single “Skylarks” is revealed.
From quiet beginnings “Skylarks“ grows impressively in stature, riding intriguing musical currents to its dramatic crescendo ending.
A highly conceptual piece, the track and title are in part inspired by a Prix Marulic winning radio documentary Acheson previously worked on about three different people’s experiences of being in the sky – “Skylarks,” by Cathy Fitzgerald.
Delving deeper there are multiple points of interest and stories within the rich sonics in this arrangement. An analog modular synth is employed to mimic the sound of a hang-glider’s altimeter, which beeps quicker and higher the further up it goes. Low swooping noises and sub bass notes originate from manipulated recordings of “Skylarks,” while an ingenious stroke of sound design sees slowed-down recordings of a bee become a mechanical whirring sound, the original recording for which was taken in a field of skylarks on Inishbofin island (featured on the cover of the album).
Purchase and Stream here: https://ffm.to/skylarks
Since its inception, producer and composer Joe Acheson has carefully developed Hidden Orchestra from a simple initial project concept of ‘an imagined orchestra’ into something that has flourished into a widespan musical universe of its own, that is truly unlike anything else.
After multiple albums with respected independent label Tru Thoughts, continued support from the likes of The Guardian, BBC6Music, FIP, JazzFM, several awards for innovative soundtrack work intertwined with AI and consistent global touring of an energetic and intriguing live show featuring two duelling drummers, their reach and influence has swollen to make them one of the highest regarded names in independent music today and has even led to collaborations beyond the world of music, with The British Library, Kew Gardens and National Trust all enlisting Acheson for unique installation projects. Yet regardless of the current brief in front of him, the initial mission statement to ‘create electronic music with acoustic means’ remains.
Acheson achieves this task with aplomb, conjuring intricate yet expansive worlds of sound, built in collaboration with a select core of talented musicians, combined with Acheson’s bespoke samples, field recordings, and carefully honed composition and arrangement sensibilities. Detail and craftsmanship are at the core of everything he does, even musically directing a diverse array of instrumentalists to capture unique samples of both improvised and scored nature. This ingenious approach really sets his work apart from the crowd and allows Acheson’s artistic vision to come to life exactly as intended.
While new album “To Dream Is To Forget” certainly maintains this mission statement, it does also bring about a sea change for the project on a few fronts. Released via Acheson’s own newly formed Lone Figures imprint, the musical direction for the record involved a concerted effort to condense musical themes and ideas into more immediate arrangements, with less utilisation of field recordings than previously released material.
Predominantly sticking to this ethos has indeed meant an average track length reduction throughout, however there is still the same high level of musicality and no shortage of ideas within this rich collection of 10 original tracks.
A familiar cast o contributors return – with long term members Jamie Graham (drums), Tim Lane (drums), and Poppy Ackroyd (violin) all present, alongside newer personnel – Jack McNeill (clarinet) and Rebecca Knight (cello) all helping to realise Acheson’s musical vision.
The album title is taken from a line by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa – “No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake.”
And this seems an apt calling card for a collection that draws influence from a fantastic and diverse array of places. Musically at any given point you are as likely to hear sounds akin to Max Cooper or Four Tet as you are Stravinsky, Debussy, and Ravel.
With the idea of ‘reimagining’ playing a key role in the creation of the project, the title track leans into the overarching concept and nature of dreams reworking everyday experience into new subconscious stories…
Pulling inspiration from almost everywhere Acheson explains: “I’m influenced by everything I’ve ever heard, a lot of these sounds aren’t inherently musical, but I’ll try to find something with a musical quality within it. I also like the intentions of a lot of sacred choral music, creations that look upwards, this has a big aesthetic influence on the way I try to create.”
Hidden Orchestra will be on a European headline tour this fall. Tickets available right here: https://www.hiddenorchestra.com/dates
Pre-order the new album “To Dream Is To Forget” here: https://www.diggersfactory.com/shop/hiddenorchestra here: https://hiddenorchestra.bandcamp.com/album/to-dream-is-to-forget
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- To Dream Is To Forget