Orchestra Solitaire – “Different Skies” (ESM 2014, CD/DL)

Orchestra Solitaire is a new project from Jet Jaguar ship commander Charles Van de Kree, and couldn’t be further in light years from his hard and heavy space rocking mothership band. The promo sheet describes the music as inhabiting “the stratospheric region where minimal sound textures provide the canvas for guitar explorations reminiscent of Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner”, and also references, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and the 70s ECM artists (note the label name Charles chose: ESM = Exploration Sound Music). In addition to guitar, Charles employs a variety of keyboards and synths, piano, flute, percussion and effects.

Most of the 15 instrumental tracks are in the 2-4 minute range with a couple hitting 5 minutes. The shorter tracks feel like brief sonic brushstroke musings, as if they were daily entries in Charles’ audio diary. There’s a beautiful melodic simplicity to the music, with piano and guitar usually taking the lyrical lead. We’ve got lots of cinematic space ambience and soundscape exploration. I like the spacey efx’d guitar licks that sound like slowly falling shards of cosmic sound debris. Some of the music brings to mind a deeply ambient and spacey Steve Hackett, giving it a Space-Prog amidst floating electronica sensation.

All combined we have multiple snippets that make for a pleasantly flowing journey. Track titles really seem inconsequential, though there are a few slightly longer pieces that stand out on their own. Different Skies consists of solo piano alternating with guitar, piano and synth Prog, plus dreamy space exploration and beautifully melodic guitar leads. Slow Birds features expansive melodic ambience with playfully jazzy guitar runs, whining soundscape licks, and cosmically beckoning flute. I like the contrast and combination of electro rhythms and drifting melodic ambient Space-Prog on Prism. And Thru Fog is captivating with its lusciously efx’d space guitar licks that weave a path alongside slowly rumbling drones. A really nice set, and my wishlist request for the next album is to try developing some lengthier stretch out excursions.

The CD and download of Different Skies are available from CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/orchestrasolitaire
It should also be available at Amazon

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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