tue 23/07/2019

CD: Beth Orton – Kidsticks | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Beth Orton – Kidsticks

CD: Beth Orton – Kidsticks

Restless experimentalist creates sublimely novel electro-acoustic blend

Beth Orton: beautiful textures

Beth Orton is generally filed under folktronica, but neither the label, nor the pigeonhole, do such a restless musician any favours. After a gradual transition from the gauzy electronic sound of her 1990s albums towards a more acoustic set-up, this latest outing – which follows her move to California, and emerged from what Orton has described as an intense process of discovery – draws on an intriguing array of electronic effects. But this is not a return to where she started: it shows that Orton has been listening with new ears, as it were, to what the electronic can offer, and is striking out on another new path.  

The challenge of self-discovery and enquiry comes through repeatedly. “I want to know what the moon feels like within,” she sings on “Moon”, in typically elliptical and quizzical style. Even when the lyrics have a slightly more conventional frame – such as the radio-friendly “Wave”, in which Orton sings “I was crying out to you,” or “Dawnstar” – the textures of instrumentation and rhythm result in a piece that’s radically unusual. “Corduroy Legs”, titled after the sound the lover makes approaching, is the gentlest song, full of chirping electronic birds that could be appalling but are somehow delicate and innocent.

The uncompromising crackle of producers Fuck Buttons comes through periodically, especially on “Snow”, but overall, this is a triumphantly novel approach. There’s plenty of space for her voice to breathe, but it’s decorated with loops, strange and mesmerisingly irregular beats, and modest applications of distortion and noise to create absorbing and original textures on, for example, “Petals”, while “1973” is a kind of synth ballad, with cleaner-cut, marching vocals. Orton was friends with Bert Jansch, but also knows electronic dance music, and these delightful new songs are nestling, camouflaged, in the sonic landscape between.

@matthewwrighter

'Corduroy Legs' is full of chirping electronic birds that could be appalling but are somehow delicate and innocent

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters