Glasgow-based Polish composer Ela Orleans is one of the most intriguing, diligent talents to have emerged over the last few years, with a restless appetite for creating immersive audio-visual experiences, or “movies for ears” as she succinctly terms her work.
Stereo, Glasgow ***
She was recently nominated for the Scottish Album of the Year Award for her Dante-inspired Circles of Upper and Lower Hell but, typically, is already on to her next journey into sound – in this case, an entirely pertinent experiment in surround sound.
Perhaps one day Orleans will be in a position to present such an enveloping collage of sound manipulation synched up to archive film footage in a concert hall acoustic – for now, an airless basement venue with audience sitting cross-legged on the floor had to suffice, creating an interesting cocktail of intimacy, claustrophobia and escapism.
Orleans sculpts her subtly shifting soundscapes from a mix of samples, both instrumental and vocal, various synthesized keyboard effects and live reverb-enhanced vocals, opening on this occasion with a crackling drone which quickly gave way to the hypnotic chime of gamelan and Orleans’ cool soothing voice over haunting double exposed images of transported children.
Innocent strings reminiscent of the BBC Light Programme undulated while a bathing beauty threw some shapes in the water, a slinky bolero was appropriately set to archive footage of social dancing. But Orleans is never obvious in her associations – as happy couples jigged around in a circle, remnants of Allegri’s Miserere rose up in the background before she climaxed with her own moody baroque pop offering.