Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Nature of Sensory Nostalgia...Sellaband's Radio Orange

Of the five senses, the sense of smell is reported to be the strongest stimulus in recalling past events. The smell of buttered popcorn, lead-based paint or pencil erasers can summon amazingly vivid memories. But what I call "sensory nostalgia" can also be triggered by what we hear. A creaking floorboard, the whistling purr of an old Volkswagon, a basketball bouncing on the hardwood floor of an empty gym...there are so many ways that sound can stop us in our tracks to ponder the episodes of our lives in vivid hindsight.

The music of each generation makes a sonic imprint that ages like fine wine and furniture. There are favorite artists and songs, of course. But I'm interested in the sounds that burrowed their way into our psyche clinging to these favorite songs like stowaway banana spiders on a cargo ship. These are the magical sounds that imbue certain songs with shamanistic qualities of recall.

The crystalline tremolo "Ding ing ing ing ing ing ing ing...Ding ing ing ing ing ing ing ing introducing Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is such a sound. The gurgling Ieslie guitar intro of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is another. And the phased guitar intro of Dobie Gray's classic "Drift Away" yet another. In most cases these sounds came about through the use of the latest technology of the times. Sound production has made incredible advances in the ensuing years. And yet recording artists are ever in search of the mystic combination of sounds that trip our nostalgia buttons.

Sellaband's Radio Orange is a band from The Netherlands that twitches my nostalgia nerve with every cut. The opening mood of "So Sad" immediately brought me back to the first time that I heard the Classics IV hit "Spooky." It wasn't the notes or the was the mood. And mood is one of those ethereal qualities that can't be written into a score. Establishing a mood in this way requires seasoning and experience. In surrounding their lyrics with great sounds, Radio Orange hypnotizes the listener to pay attention to the lyric.

Radio Orange has handcrafted their songs very wisely. It's the sound that pulls you in and the lyric that holds your attention. But the soundscape evolves as the song progresses and the listener is rewarded with bits of this and glimpses of that and before the song comes to a close, one is left with the feeling of having been on a journey well-spent.

And Radio Orange has much more to offer than great sounds and interesting lyrics. The songs seem very simple on first listen but the harmonic vocabulary of Radio Orange is very sophisticated. Harmonic tension and resolution, combined with excellent choices in instrumentation make these songs seem much shorter than they are. The song "Breathe" displays a very sensitive awareness of how powerfully the Major/minor harmonic relationships can be used to frame a lyric in a very specific way.

Radio Orange is not a band of children. Their music and production values are the work of experience and maturity. The Sellaband method of "crowd-funding" has come along at the right time for this band. The three songs available on their profile page are interesting and well executed. It's now up to the public to decide when this very talented group of musicians will have the opportunity to share a full album with the world.

Sound is a potent factor in triggering sensory nostalgia. Through the years I have put away the toys of my youth and now sound is my only drug of choice. And Radio Orange makes for a pleasant trip indeed.

1 comment:

Bep said...

Hi,ty for the review.
Were i can buy one for 250 bucks?