Year of Release: 2004
Catalog Number: n/a
Total Time: 58:12:00
Orbit Service are a very gloomy bunch and Twilight is a collection of mostly mournful... pieces (and very arty). Each piece made me think of the very last track on Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream CD - "Stop Swimming." If you are the slightest bit depressed, this is the album for you... well, it isn't the album for you really, because it might just make you feel more depressed. Not because it's a bad CD; no, that's not what I mean. But you might just identify with the songs a little too much. The title of this CD, Twilight is surely a metaphor... the dwindling light before the darkness of death... In other words, our protagonist is on the verge of ending his life (or seeing that his life - or life in general - is ending) ... he is emotionally raw and spent, hurt and angry, and yet the anger comes not with rage... which makes the emotions more unpredictable. You can hear this in the vocals and read it in the lyrics. This isn't a concept album in a narrative sense... we don't follow someone's downward spiral or anything (he's already there). Rather these are vignettes on related feelings. The sunset on the underscores this theme... (but also ties in with the imagery of "Dark Orange Sunset").
To describe the music beyond what I have: dark pastoral yet stark landscapes full of ominous shadows. The dreary vocal delivery is what gives these pieces most of their gloominess, as otherwise some pieces would be called pretty, somber instrumentals - well, I could say that about "How I Know You Lie," for example, which is mainly strummed and plucked guitar and vocals, but there comes these waves of percussion that wash over you... like dark clouds obscuring a bring spring day... and keyboards provide a subtle, but eerie tone that really becomes apparent when the vocals stop... like winds howling across a stark landscape. Although it isn't a concept album, the music carries you along by almost seamlessly melding from one piece to the next.
My favorite track is the very Floyd/P-Tree like "Thought You Should Know" that I think exemplifies this band - haunting, aching vocals (a bit like Neil Young at times); a slowly evolving arrangement with just enough movement to avoid being plodding; crashing waves of percussion; warm acoustic guitar textures... it's a love song of sorts, too. Sort of that tender admission one makes, only the other is asleep and unable to hear... It has the feel of someone's swan song (that when the other he's singing to awakes, he will be gone). The other track that appealed to me was "The Seven Rays" - it is a dark western-sounding piece with acoustic guitar, but it also during the "chorus" that you will really think of The Cure. "Minutes, Dollars, Days" brings in a mildly techno beat (oh so very P Tree) via drum loops courtesy of guest Robert Newman.
Before I researched to see if it's the case, I gathered that the members of Orbit Service, or especially the vocalist, are young. I'd say no older than their mid-twenties to late twenties. Just old enough to have been influenced to some degree by both The Cure, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, and Pink Floyd... And as I could find no biographical info on their website or in the press kit, I thought that all I would be able tell you is that Orbit Service are a Denver, Colorado based quartet of Randall Frazier (lyrics, so likely vocals), Matthew Mensch, Michael Morris and Jim Morris... However, more internet digging reveals that Frazier is the vocalist, Mensch is the bassist, Michael the guitarist and Jim the trumpeter and drummer (trumpets begin the album on "Start Dreaming")... plus accordions are in the mix, too. Frazier sounds like the The Cure's Robert Smith, P Tree's Steven Wilson, and Neil Young... sometimes all at once. (The research also reveals that Frazier is 30). The CD was mastered by Grammy-award-winning engineer Matt Sandoski, and given the subtleties heard here, it's a fantastic job.
I'll add to an already long review that an interview conducted by John La Briola at www.WestWord.com is quite revealing in to Frazier's psyche, which is very much part and parcel to this album. It can be found at www.westword.com/Issues/2004-04-08/music/music.html.
I have to say that at first I didn't like this CD at all - too gloomy, too dark, I didn't care for the vocals. But the more I listen to it (and identify with it in some way), its hidden charms - the sparse instrumentation, the way a seemingly benign arrangement suddenly envelopes you in its dark clouds, the emotion evident in the vocals - all make this an album that I listen to again. You either identify with the protagonist of each track because you've been there (or are there), or know someone who has... or both.
Start Dreaming (5:13) / Dark Orange Sunset (6:58) / High Orbit (2:39) / A Song About Birds (5:08) / The Seven Rays (3:16) / How I Know You To Lie (4:24) / When Everything Was Dead (3:00) / Thought You Should Know (8:14) / Minutes, Dollars, Days (5:33) / Sad Syrup (5:51) / Down Again (8:12)
Randall Frazier, Matthew Mensch, Michael Morris and Jim Morris
Space And Valium (2001)
Songs Of Eta Carinae (2006)