I have very fond memories of Ela Orleans. I heard her music playing in the record store I helped out at in Paris, Les Balades Sonores, this past spring. And now here she is with a new album through Clan Destine Records, Tumult In Clouds. The label describes the album as "a journey over four sides taking inspiration from literary sources. Something like a book." And indeed, Ela has come up with the coolest literary essay I’ve ever encountered. It’s an album that lives up to its title "tumult", with songs that have named like "Diving into the Wreck", "Risky Trip to the Underworld", "Dark Wood", "Clangers in the Night", and "Where Are You?". Clouds are not often thought of as places of "tumult", but for this artist, even the fluffiest, most lithe entities are hefty. Her sources are a veritable treasure trove, but the good thing is that you may also listen to the album without caring about the context. Emily Dickinson, Alestair Crowley, Lord Byron, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Rimbaud, Jacques Derrida, and Tennessee Williams – Ela Orleans takes the academic-cum-musician concept we've seen prominently in quite a few places this year to a different level here.
Tumult In Clouds is an album filled with styles and stories too, with almost every track getting a different genre tag when loaded onto your computer's music library: "Pranks", "Booty Bass", "Dance Hall", or "Polka", though this might ultimately have the sole purpose to tease the reviewer, as Clan Destine operates as a analogue-only imprint. Then there’s "Where Are You?", aptly described by the label as "a swirling dervish of an instrumental", and of course there can't possibly ever be anything wrong with a swirling dervish. The title track has this amazing, things-are-looking-up violin its way through seven minutes of Yeats verse. Apparently the song is "about a friend of the Yeats family who was shot down over Italy whilst serving in the First World War". And for some reason, you can just picture the plane in black and white, making its way through Italian clouds. Unsurprisingly, this is the 'swirling dervish', the plane going down in slow motion over seven minutes. Instrumental track "Dark Wood" on the other hand darts forward like a tadpole. In fact, it's a song that would sound like the soundtrack to the most dry day of your life if it weren’t for this stressed darting. we highly recommend you give this whole double LP a thorough listen. Despite being dark and bleak on the edges, Tumult In Clouds isn’t a record to fear, it’s one to trust. Embrace the 'tumult in clouds'. Ela has.
Tumult In Clouds is out now. Listen to "Dark Wood" exclusively below and order the LP over here.