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'Heart Of The Cave'   

-  Label: 'At The Helm Records'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '29th September 2017'

Our Rating:
This is an album where the background to its production is a lot more interesting than the music.

The songs were written and recorded in 2,500-year-old caves under its streets of Osimo, Italy. These underground tunnels apparently hosted secret societies and religious gatherings. Osimo (Come To Life) was written after their first visit to the caves.

A local historian Simona Palombarani served as a tour guide to explain some of the more exotic history. The information she provided was used directly for the song Flying Joe about a 17th century Franciscan friar who, according to legend, meditated in such an ecstatic manner than it caused him to levitate.

Ben Glover of the band speaks of feeling "a profound sense that we were stepping back into the past, into a mysterious and ancient world".

The band come to the this project largely as a consequence of another journey back in time with their 'Soundtrack To A Ghost Story' (2015), music written for a documentary about a haunted house in Kentucky where families, soldiers and servants stayed during the American Civil War.

All told, The Orphan Brigade comprises fourteen musicians, a number that only really comes across in the affirmative massed chanting of the choruses.

It begins promisingly with a drum beat and a chorus of voices on Pile Of Bones and the songs come right up to the present time with the rockier The Birds Are Silent which was inspired by an earthquake that happened while the band were recording.

One might have expected them to exploit the acoustics of the unique setting. Unfortunately, you don't really hear anything that's radically different from a standard studio sound.

The mood swings between faux rustic sound of mandolin-led folk music and more upbeat electric pieces all of which are relatively conventional.   

Knowledge of the inspiration behind the songs certainly makes it an interesting project but minus the visuals and explanatory booklet the songs are fairly ordinary and forgettable.

The Orphan Brigade's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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