04 May 2011

Review: Hidden Orchestra 'Night Walks'

Night Walks
[Tru Thoughts]

I cringed when I saw the sticker on the Hidden Orchestra debut album Night Walks. For fans of Zero 7, it says. Oh, really? Those boring bastards are worthy of being name-checked on a sticker? And this from one of my all-time favourite labels, Tru Thoughts? What the hell's going on?! Luckily for my pulse rate, the Edinburgh-based group formerly known as Joe Acheson Quartet doesn't sound much like Zero 7 at all. I hear Bonobo, Clifford Gilberto, Tortoise and classical influences mixed with Morricone and Axelrod, like a 21st century musical version of Alfred Hitchcock. Hidden Orchestra seek to emulate electronic music via acoustic means, utilising traditional live instrumentation, organically assembled samples - and two live drummers. This beguiling blend of hip hop swagger, lush sweeping orchestration and post-rock experimentalism makes for an intense and rewarding listen. Cinematic, emotive, percussive, next generation music. And Zero 7 can piss right off.

4 stars from 5

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