On his 2011 release Old Soul, L’Orange transported Billie Holiday’s fragile lullabies from the smoke-strewn piano lounges of the past into the 21st century. His collab with Stik Figa on The City Under The City was one of the most emotive releases to come out of the U.S. underground last year; and with his latest album The Orchid Days, the young producer from North Carolina has once again dug deep for vinyl gold to re-emerge loop-laden like King Solomon.
As with all of his LP’s, the content draws from his poetry to create a serene synthesis between dark and light; communicating a tragic love story through tv and radio samples from a by-gone era. After a fittingly cinematic intro courtesy of well-known voice actor Erik Todd Dellums; Second Person sets vocal lines sailing into one another like whistling grenades on old cartoons; colliding with filtered piano lines to form an instantly encapsulating atmosphere that draws you into the world The Orchid Days creates. Erica Lane’s delicate voice adds sultry tones to free-form guitar licks on Man Of The Night; before rolling snares ring out under meandering vocal cuts on The Pull Of Warmth.
Fellow Mello Music group artist Homeboy Sandman rides big-band brass loops with entertaining tales of romantic conquest that always seem to end in adoption on Mind vs Matter; before Eventually highlights L’Orange’s uncanny ability to transform hokey, middle-class-family-fodder from back in the day into boom-bap bangers, and A Spring Like You changes the pace with crisp hi-hats that don’t swing as much as they wildly careen off course; clinging to bouncing kicks as they evade stray piano lines. Will Wait finds L’Orange’s dusty loops enshrouded by an analog warmth that satisfies like the crackle of old vinyl, and Love Letter lends Jeremiah Jae a sanguine soundscape to drop lyrical lozenges over while Spilled Together‘s rapidly changing doo-wop chops play like a pumped-up Sunday afternoon matinee at your local care home.
A more youthful voicing recurs to catchy effect on the title track; with short, memorable vocal cuts and shuffling hi-hats that merge with heavy kick patterns to make the tune the album’s best. Then Backwoodz Studioz founder Billy Woods moulds his rhymes over a fluctuating bpm on The End, backed by a dope video that’s as dark as his content, and leaving What Was left to close this dope LP with danceable drum loops that undulate beneath epic overtones. By keeping the guest verses sparse L’Orange’s ear for vintage samples has ample room to shine; as the dusky loops he’s become known for grow neater, interlinking intricately without losing their truncated slap. Remaining heavily influenced by yesteryear without sounding anachronistic, The Orchid Days is a logical yet challenging continuation of the man’s musical odyssey; that improves on his previous output without disregarding his established interpretation of sample-based composition.