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Ela Orleans

Movies For Ears

    “With Ela’s music I feel emotional, engaged… I can’t help but feel she’s always looking for a sense of belonging and it seems to inform all the music that she makes. Glasgow must have more of that belonging feeling than most cities because she’s spent the most time here, an exotic bird in a rainy city she maybe finds a lttle bit of comfort in. It’s a pleasure to have her here, in this awful time to be living in Britain, her illuminations feel important and hopeful. A stubborn light; someone making great timeless music out of the humdrum of the everyday.” - Stephen Pastel

    Movies For Ears is a retrospective collection of works by Polish-born, Glasgow-based artist Ela Orleans which navigates almost two decades of songwriting in the heart of the global pop underground. This remastered collection casts an ear over what Orleans might call the ‘pop sensibility’ within her back catalogue. Released previously on a number of small DIY labels, Orleans’ music coincided with the explosion of auto-didactic musicians finding their voice in the age of the blogosphere, artists emboldened by the democratisation of music-making afforded by the internet. From the outset, Orleans’ childhood studying formal music mixed with cut-up techniques, sampling, sound-art and experimentation to create a distinctive signature cloaked in an innate melancholy and playfulness. Fully remastered by James Plotkin, featuring extensive sleeve-notes and rare photos from Orleans’ archive, Movies For Ears presents an appraisal of the musician’s work, painting a portrait of an artist with an uncanny ability to evoke emotions and ghosts of memories in the listener.

    Each song pulls sunshine from its surroundings, moments of pleasure plucked from eulogies. The Season employs a hypnotic loop with Orleans’s prophetic voice heralding the season we’re doomed to repeat. In fact the singer is often cast as the changing protagonist in her songs: on Walkingman, a hazy ballad heavy with ennui, the narrator is laden with the world’s weight, forever pacing a groundhog day world blank, a pissed-off actor in a Kafka-esque melodrama. On Light At Dawn we’re in a seedy kitsch bar-room go-go scene, a ghostly rock’roll romance with shimmering percussion, poledancing in a Lynchian half-dream. Movies For Ears’ moods straddle memory and fantasy: scratchily invoking halfremembered exotica, the flickering shadows of europhile cinemas screens, a delicately woven world anchored in Orleans existential meditations on longing, intimacy, solitude and the search for love. These rich textures in every song don’t overpower some crystalised moments of emotion however: on In Spring Orleans sings simply “I have been happy two weeks together,” summarizing that feeling of elation when emerging from a depression, a long winter. It’s a moment that perfectly illustrates the lightness of touch and clarity in the singer’s voice.

    The power of the loop and Orleans’ weaving songwriting that breaks its spell is illustrated perfectly by I Know. Over an aching chord progression, the vocal takes flight into bittersweet loneliness, Pachelbel’s Canon played at a wedding where only one person shows up. The repeated refrain “I know, I know” ascends to the heavens as the chords descend to the dumps and the listener is left in the middle, happy but not knowing why, maybe a little changed, two weeks together. On Movies For Ears, Ela Orleans lets us into a secret: the rare moments of joy to be found in the joins of the loop, the spaces between things, the spring after the winter are the moments that last after the day has faded.


    1. The Season
    2. Walkingman
    3. Light At Dawn
    4. In Spring
    5. Something Higher
    6. In The Night
    7. I Know
    8. Black And White Flight
    9. Myriads
    10. Neverend
    11. Planet Mars (CD/Digital Bonus Track)
    12. Apparatus (CD/Digital Bonus Track)
    13. Elegy (CD/ Digital Bonus Track)

    Ela Orleans

    Circles Of Upper And Lower Hell

      Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is the grandest, deepest work to date by Polish-born, Glasgow-based sound artist and composer Ela Orleans. The seventh album under her own name, Orleans' expansive vision, loosely based on Dante's Inferno but infused with deep personal experience, incorporates sound art, orchestral textures, synth pop and electronic music to construct a world equally peppered with loss and inspiration. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell pulls all the strands of Orleans' previous work together, an epic depiction of turmoil wide in scope but reveling in detail. From her beginnings inaugurating a lo-fi, homespun sound that has since developed fully into a language uniquely her own, from tentative live outings featuring multiple instruments to a now-masterly command of sound, Orleans has become one of the most consistently surprising musicians of the global underground.

      "Circles" documents Ela's research into dark sonic interiors and a far more personal approach to conventional songwriting. Previously, Orleans' sonic textures have relied on samples cleaved out of context, buried songs beneath warped aural gauze, but Circles blows every element of Orleans' art upwards and further apart. Circles begins with a masterful, sparse composition, The Gate, that instantly showcases the expert mastering by Jon Brooks before melting into You Go Through Me (featuring Stephen and Katrina from The Pastels), one of the most direct, aching pop moments. Ghost and Whispers is a hit from another universe, a sparkling propulsion instantly recognizable as an Ela Orleans composition; light of touch and almost unbearably, ghostlily human. Circles Of Upper and Lower Hell is an honest portrayal of a descent; be it personal or metaphorical and there are times, like on the minimal, string-led Tower, when the listener feels submerged, alienated from comfort. Through-out there's a massive, cinematic scope to the album, rumbling synth textures escalating into celestial harmonies, the stereofield sparkling with sound, shimmering melodies crackling with the sort of pathos that Ela has made her recognisable trademark. It's a weighty journey, pitched aurally between Ghost Box records and a mournful classicism, drawing references from literature and autobiography.

      Circles... is really without parallel in Orleans' discography, though its most obvious sister record, 2015's Upper Hell, gave some streamlined, carved-up hints at Circles Of Upper Hell's majesty. Orleans' previous work has always suggested threads, blurred ghost-ideas from an artist always growing. In 2016 Orleans has mastered her craft completely, never heavy-handed but deftly handling themes of loss, chaos, documenting personal journeys sometimes arduous with an ever-deeper understanding.


      Barry says: 24 tracks? Some short, some long... that would usually be a red light right there, but in this case, you'd be wrong. This is a cohesive and flowing collection, varied but with a similar ilk of instrumentation and drive. Electronic and percussive, but studded with acoustic elements. There are organs in there, pianos and guitar weaving through the fog of electric drone. On top of all that, vocals segue in and out, punctuating the chaos with divine melody. A skilled and meticulous construction of acoustics and electronics.

      Ela Orleans

      Upper Hell

        Ela Orleans has released music on Warp, All Saints Records, Parental Guidance, La Station Radar, Night People, Clan Destine Records, Twisted Nerve and more.

        Fans of her work include David Lynch, Thurston Moore and Ian Rankin.

        Ela has scored ballets, stage productions, films and TV shows and performed / worked with Dirty Beaches, Lee Renaldo, Magic Markers, Julia Holter, Space Lady, Lower Dens, Vaselines, The Pastels, Baby Dee, James Pants, Tara Jane O’Neill, Remember Remember and Jackie O Motherfucker, to name but a few.

        ‘Upper Hell’ was produced by Howie B. Ela is the first artist signed to his HB Recordings label.

        Artwork by Mat Cook from Intro London.

        “She is Moondogmatic in her intransigent commitment to producing compositions of subtlety and incongruent beauty. These are polysemous confections which make you feel that you are listening to pop music for the first time again” - Time Out

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