Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Morning Listening: Orion by Ryan Adams

Recorded in 2006, Orion is the latest release by Ryan Adams, done through his own label and only in a vinyl/download package. I wonder about that choice of release since I would have preferred a CD. But whatever.

The album was described ahead of time as metal-influenced, but my first listening made me think of punk more than anything. With mostly one- and two-minute tracks, I was reminded of Adams's side project of one point, the Finger. Anyone own the Finger CD? Horrible shit. I've tried a few times to get into it and it isn't great. So, my hopes for Orion were immediately low as I expected more of that.

I was wrong.

There is an element of noise pollution in the music, but the more you listen to it, the more the melodies come through. It's a concept album about a space war. I haven't been able to follow the story much since the lyrics are screamed and drowned out a lot by the guitars. But, there is a big sense of cohesion throughout as songs blend together and flow from one to the next.

In a few places, Adam shows off his vocal chops with high-pitched singing including one end to a song that seems taken from dozens of metal songs.

The content of the lyrics seems unimportant almost. Certain snippets get through, certain lines like the final song ending with the reptition of "end of days." Orion seems more like a piece of music you stick in the background and and listen to as such. The vocals are just another instrument, working with and against the rest of the song as needed. None of the songs really stand out except for "Fire and Ice," because it changes things up by slowing down and using a lot of pianos. It's a little interlude and it's the longest song at 3:48... the next longest song is 2:49.

What I'm finding difficult is placing this within the rest of Adams's work. It doesn't sit well next to his official releases. This is more like the throwaway Finger stuff or his various online personas where he'd release dozens of tracks online for streaming, but it's mostly stuff you wouldn't pay money for. Adams flexing his creative muscles and having some fun. This is more polished and cohesive than that other stuff, but it's also somewhat disappointing since it lacks the depth of his regular output.

It almost seems right that I won't have it on a real CD, just a copy I burn myself. But, I am enjoying it and that's what matters.


Jeff said...

Ah so tthis finally came out? I'll have to check it out. The sample song was...interesting.

Chad Nevett said...

Yeah, I obtained it through non-purchased means because of the manner in which it's been released (on vinyl through his site only).

Jeff said...

So after listening...this is completely batshit...and pretty great. Digging the elements of thrash and hardcore.

Chad Nevett said...

Yeah, it has some great parts and works as a whole. Would you include it in his regular discography or count it as a side project sort of thing?

Can you follow the story? I haven't attempted a close listen to try and focus on the lyrics yet...

Jeff said...

Definitely a side project sort of thing...backed up by the fact that it was released in an extremely limited fashion.

I haven't attempted a close listen yet either...but err...I love the parts at the end of a couple tracks where he's wailing GHORGOOON!

Chad Nevett said...

"Ghorgon Master of War"... yeah. I like how certain bits and pieces come through to add to the mood. I'm not sure the lyrics/story even matter that much still. Seems like Adams may have just thrown it together around the whole space opera idea without really constructing a proper story.