The Orielles tell us about the inspirations behind their great new LP ‘Tableau’
The Orielles' new album Tableau is a big creative leap for the UK trio. Taking techniques they learned making the film La Vita Olistica -- which used reimagined versions of songs from their 2020 album Disco Volador -- the band dove into the world of soundtracks while furthering their explorations with dance music when recording at Goyt studio in greater Manchester. “To Goyt it,” says drummer Sidonie B Hand-Halford, “that’s getting all these pieces and rearranging them. We had vocal melodies and ideas that we’d then run through and sample, and play them on sample pads. We were being editors, really.” The Orielles' collage technique still has roots in indie, but has been given an exploded view. It's a terrific record and you can listen to it below.
The band -- vocalist and bassist Esmé Hand-Halford, drummer Sidonie Hand-Halford and guitarist Henry Carlyle-Wade -- were nice enough to make us a list of inspirations for Tableau, which includes fellow musicians, filmmakers, artists and more, and offers a lot of insight into their process. Read that below.
THE ORIELLES - 10 INFLUENCES BEHIND 'TABLEAU'
Susumu Yokota - Fruits of the Room
This is an album that has had a lot to do with our sound over the past couple of years, from remixing other artists to eventually finding our self-titled ‘Goyting’ process, in which we randomly digitize acoustic sounds using plugins picked by chance, to create new electronic textures. We first consumed this album by the late great Susumu Yokota (under the alias Stevia) as a collective on a late night drive from Liverpool to Manchester with co-producer of Tableau Joel Patchett. Ever since, it’s beautiful sounds, its beautiful sleeve, and everything in between has seeped into our subconscious as a group and thus it was one of the most frequently referenced electronic collections of music throughout the recording of album #3.
Lee Friedlander Photographs
The writing of lyrics and vocal melodies for Tableau was a more recent part of Tableau’s journey so far since its conception. Instead of drawing this process out, Esmé strived to replicate the improvisational and ‘in the room / in the moment’ energy of writing the music, therefore committing only the month of October to write lyrics and melodies filtered through whatever books/art/film/music she was consuming at the time. One of the strongest influences permeating throughout the songs came after seeing a Lee Friedlander retrospective in Berlin, and the lyrics for Darkened Corners directly speak of his photo collections ‘Little Screens’, ‘Monuments’, ‘Machines’ and more in a track that sees each member of the band singing in the roles of ‘subject’, ‘taker’ and ‘seer’ of photographs. So much of Friedlanders process seemed to speak to our process of making this record too, and furthermore his stunning images have influenced art connected to the record since.
Jean Cocteau ‘Orpheus’
Another lyrical influence came from the film Orpheus directed by John Cocteau, which informed the lyrics for Neil Young & Portishead inspired track "Transmission." The track comes at a part of the album that seems to take a hauntological turn, possibly inspired by the old chapel of Vada Studios that much of the second half was recorded in. I loved the reality of the dream world within this film; decaying, cold, bound by unearthly physics, gliding through ruins in the face of a harsh wind, mirrors, labyrinths. A lot of this imagery felt apt to describe the phantasmagoria as you journey through "Transmission."
Stan Brakhage ‘Dog Star Man’
Stan Brakhage is an artist we became familiar with whilst experimenting with film stuff for La Vita Olistica, however we used this collection of experimental shorts as a visual through playbacks of Tableau also. Sitting in the control room at both Vada and Echo Zoo studios, and then later at Sid’s house to listen to the test pressing, we sat and watched this film, admiring the textures, the montage editing and the simple beauty of each ambiguous shot. It inspired us to self-direct the videos for singles from the album, particularly "The Room" which we opted to shoot on Super-8, our first time experimenting with the medium!
The Krautrock movement that emerged out of Germany in a direct response to wanting to find their own identity away from Schlager music styles and also from the contemporary stuff being made in the UK and US. It birthed the likes of Faust, Kraftwerk and Can. Henry remembers reading about CANs production styles and about how their early records are all just them playing in a room together for hours and then editing that down into the songs you hear on the record. An idea that closely resembles the conscious flow of jazz he saw it as a perfect way to inject so much more expression into the music you create only worrying about structure once the takes were finished. This as well as the incredibly experimental DIY approach to Can and Kraut in general made it incredibly inspiring and appealing as a method for this record.
Henry started to read a lot of existential text from the likes of De Beauvoir and Sartre as well as Camus. On reflection this thoroughly informed the process of the recording the album due to the thought that the means having far much more importance than the ends. Making the process of living the record and creating it, not being anxious about the ends, trying to focus on the now, and casting out all other distractions. Which is why historically we’ve always preferred to record in residential studios for this reason. This theme -- coupled with the fact of man that it will always try and transcend itself and cross a threshold and ask ‘and then what?’ -- makes the whole concept important to our ethos as musicians.
Joel Anthony Patchett
Deciding to ask Joel to produce the record alongside us felt like a good idea as soon as the words left our lips. Joel is first and foremost a very close friend and secondly an extremely talented engineer and producer. The working relationship we have is almost telepathic on this record we were very much on the same wavelength with a lot of things and no matter how mad the idea we were all willing to try out anything and explore any avenue no matter how much or little we knew about what we were doing. Joel also brings an incredibly vibe of chaos to a lot of scenarios keeping the whole session on a slight unpredictable edge that keeps us in the realm of questioning a lot of things.
Pauline coined the term ‘Deep Listening’ to epitomize the practice of improvisation, experimental electronics and reaction. We were particularly inspired by this idea whilst recording Tableau, we wanted to work with limitations, to see what could be created through improvisation and chance occurrences. The practice of deep listening also encourages a more selective nature of listening, reacting to one another as well as one's own imagination and body, experimenting with the relationships created through chance occurrences and collisions of sonics.
Sharing similarities with Pauline Oliveros with regards to writing and improvisation, graphic scores inspired the holistic jamming processes we followed during Tableau’s creation. Jazz trumpeter, Wadada Leo Smith drew striking, almost Joan Miro-esque scores to give to an improvisation ensemble for musicians to follow and play to, following how the art itself made them feel. An exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York also displayed the work of Jennie C. Jones, another artist and musician who drew graphic scores to represent their music.
We tried this practice whilst recording ‘Beam/s’ in the studio, using automatic drawing to create a graphic score for Joel to follow whilst modulating the arpeggiated synth line which runs throughout the song.
Bottle tops / Found percussive objects
Performative percussion loops became a huge part of our recording process. We would find objects in and around the studio that had a nice resonance or sounded nice to us, and walk around the room with them. We sometimes built a song around this room recording, or just grab a couple of seconds of it to fuck with and make sound like a drum machine or electronic tape loop. Furthermore, we collected bottle tops for a while, for Sidonie to make instruments out of for her drum kit. This practice was very much inspired by Glenn Kotche and his ever expanding drum-kit, with an emphasis on ‘recycled percussion’. Would like to share the love with Portland based creators ‘Upcycled Percussion’ for inspiring the creation of our own instruments from across the pond.