sat 25/05/2024

Albums of 2015: Alina Orlova – 88 | reviews, news & interviews

Albums of 2015: Alina Orlova – 88

Albums of 2015: Alina Orlova – 88

An intense Lithuanian bolt from the blue combines ecstasy and the sepulchral

Alina Orlova’s '88': Listen and be instantly captivated

Choosing an album of the year is an exacting process. For an album to be arresting, it either has to come as a bolt from the blue or build on what’s come before in a way which represents an identifiable artistic development which takes things to new level while saying something fresh. Holding patterns and restatements of default settings will never have an impact, especially if they speak of or to comfort zones.

Alina Orlova’s third album, 88, is arresting, a bolt from the blue and represents identifiable artistic development. Boxes ticked then. More importantly, it is also the album which has most demanded repeat visits over the year since its release in April. Hence its choice as an album of the year. Although barely known in the Anglophone world, for her fellow Lithuanians and some Latvians and Russians, Orlova is familiar. She used to be on a French label, so has some profile there.

Orlova's first album to fully embrace electronica, 88 marries it with the piano, her main instrument. She has drawn from folk, was voted breakthrough artist of the year by the Lithuanian magazine Pravda in 2006 and her debut album, Laukinis Suo Dingo, was issued by the French label Fargo in 2009. Although living in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, she is from Visaginas, a north-eastern town close to the borders with Belarus and Latvia. In her home country, Orlova’s popularity is secure.

88 is not perfect. But what really is? The production is a little thin, probably a result of recording digitally. Orlova’s vocals are sometimes detached from the instrumental arrangements. But neither matters as the songs and voice are so extraordinarily immersive. Overall, the atmosphere is overpoweringly intense. Coming across her live in Hamburg during September was unforgettable. Instead of performing, she channelled. She was her music. The only comparable experience was seeing Norway’s Susanne Sundfør in the wake of the release of her second album, 2010’s The Brothel.

Titled after the year of her birth, 88 features songs in either Lithuanian, Russian or English. Three separate songs each draw from the writings of William Blake, Oscar Wilde and the religious philosopher Alan Watts, underscoring a fascination with the mystical. Her voice is anguished and suffused with the ecstasy of sudden revelation. Her sepulchral, immediately unforgettable melodies are imbued with a graceful sinuousness drawing from Baltic folk traditions.

Listen overleaf to extracts from the remarkable 88 and be instantly captivated.

Overleaf: Listen to tracks from Alina Orlova’s 88


Listen to “Spindulėlis” from Alina Orlova’s 88

Listen to “Sailor” from Alina Orlova’s 88

Listen to “Švinta” from Alina Orlova’s 88

Listen to “Share my Disease” from Alina Orlova’s 88

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