[sic] Magazine

Orions Belte – Mint

Not heard of Orions Belte before? That’s possibly because they’re an eclectic combo from Oslo, Norway – and this is their debut album. In fact, it’s arguably one of the strangest albums I’ve listened to in quite a while, being comprised mainly of instrumentals, although a number of tracks do contain vocals. Blurring the lines somewhere between jazz-fusion, soft-rock and psychedelic lo-fi, their music could really be from any time you care to choose, but there’s definitely a slant towards the late sixties/early seventies. It’s mainly guitar-led and really quite ‘out there’.

There are three guys in the band – and it has to be said that the quality of the instrumentation is first-rate. Orions Belte describe themselves as equally inspired by Nigerian 70s rock and postcards from the French riviera – but keep in mind that auditioning their album is somewhat like turning up to Woodstock while carrying an 18-inch spliff in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in the other. ‘Joe Frazier’, for instance, leans very much towards The Jimi Hendrix Experience in terms of rock sensibilities in both the guitar and vocals departments. Elsewhere, there are a hybrid of sounds – ‘Papillon’ is carried by a lovely main guitar riff, with lots of space for dynamics, particularly from the drums.

Despite being a considerably leftfield release, Mint is a reliably consistent album that improves with each listen. After ‘New Years Eve #2’ kicks things off, the real gems lie somewhere around track #4 onwards – ‘Le Mans’ carves out some lovely sounding guitar (carried along with some retro organ). ‘Atlantic Surfing’ is an album highlight – it comes the closest to sounding ‘contemporary’ whilst definitely retaining a toe in the past. It could possibly be a RIDE b-side – or even a track on a Catherine Wheel album. It’s great, actually.

Closing proceedings off is ‘Alnitak’, a slower piece that wraps things up rather nicely. Orions Belte have clearly approached the album from recording only what can be reproduced live and not being tempted to apply lots of overdubs in the studio. This keeps the songs straightforward in terms of layering and also gives the album a real sense of focus in terms of tracks not becoming overly busy.

‘Mint’ is released on 14 September.