RADIANT MUSIC by SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
|Release||W 20 - 2023|
|Format||Vinyl - CANLP|
|€ 28,99||incl. VAT, excl. shipping|
Symphony Orchestra is a new group from Maximilian Turnbull and Michael Rault. Both Rault and Turnbull are accomplished songwriters, performers and producers in their own right, with Turnbull leading The Badge Epoque Ensemble, playing with the group Darlene Shrugg, and once releasing records under the name Slim Twig and Rault having released several psychedelic rock & roll classics under his own name in the past decade. The pair have worked together in various capacities for many years, writing and recording together on U.S. Girls' In A Poem Unlimited, and contributing to each other's releases, but the debut LP from Symphony Orchestra (due out May 12th on Telephone Explosion) marks their first release as an official entity.
Needless to say, there is a potent creative chemistry between Rault and Turnbull and Radiant Music showcases the alchemy between their distinct skill sets. The album is an exercise in pure collaboration. After years spent focusing on solo projects and working as hired guns on other projects, the duo came together with no specific intentions other than to work free of boundaries and direction. Freeing themselves from the familiar pressures of deadlines and expectations, they found a sense of discovery through togetherness. Duties on this project were split between Rault acting primarily as a one-man rhythm section and lead vocalist with Turnbull bringing chord sketches and his trademark aphoristic lyrical musings to the table. Trading off roles on guitar and keys from song to song, the duo's deft approach to melody bleeds through their instrumental parts as much as it does through Rault's vocal melodies. The majority of this album was self-engineered over the course of three sessions in 2018, at Michael's Montreal studio. Dormant during the pandemic, Rault's move to Los Angeles and the birth of Turnbull's twin sons, work reignited in 2022. The latterly tracked instrumental 'Concerto' and ballad 'Unthink The Thinkable' provide a dynamic depth to the album perhaps attributable to this tumultuous pause. Mixing came courtesy of Steve Chahley & Tony Price (U.S. Girls, BÉE, Jane Inc, etc).
In all of their work, Rault and Turnbull have made a hallmark of elaborately precise production and arrangement, Radiant Music is no different, though its pared-back simplicity provides a streamlined directness. The pairing of Rault's soulful, elastic vocal with Turnbull's evocatively cerebral lyrics provides a thrilling sensation unlike anything else in their respective catalogs. With an explosive, groove-forward approach, kaleidoscopic walls of vocal harmony and technicolor displays of guitar work, these 31 minutes of music will most certainly stimulate the mind of any fan of classic pop rock and funk. The blown-out breakbeats, winsome woven vocal melodies and propulsive wah-wah guitars of the title track evoke memories of an after-school cartoon special that never really existed outside of a lysergic daydream. "Harp In The Wind" is a perfect moment of overcast melancholy complete with ribbons of weeping synthesizers and velcro-fuzz guitar that could rip a clean line through Kevlar. "Know Thyself" and the harmony-rich "Intersection" are standout tracks that find a kinship in Stereolab's space-age effervescence. "Concerto" is a slab of beaming, mischievous funk that nods to Billy Preston's extraterrestrial keyboard explorations.
Radiant Music, like the best pop music, is life-affirming, confectionary, and enticing. Symphony Orchestra have created an album that hits you right where you need it, anchoring heady, adventurous sonic ideas down to a solid foundation of masterful songcraft, virtuosic instrumental performances and undeniable groove. Not a bar, nor beat is wasted.