[sic] Magazine

ORB – Birth

Fifty miles from Melbourne, far-flung musical outpost Geelong is doing a great job of proving itself a real hotbed of youthful guitar bands. These pages have already featured the talents of The Living Eyes and Wet Blankets, and kudos also goes to the connected Anti Fade label who tend to round up most of the action. Local hard-prog trio ORB’s path has already crossed with these and more and now they’ve graduated to garage mecca Castle Face for the release of their new album Birth. And, though the band peddle bluesy sludge as much as they do trad psych, the fit is a good one.

Tell-tale Ty Segall-esque riffs rumble, for example, alongside a throaty groove on minimal opener “Iron Mountain”, while Zak Olsen’s near-spoken vocal intones solemnly throughtout like Ozzy. The levels of doom fuzz it also invokes are almost cartoonish too, drums, bass and guitar all rendered indistinct by electrification. Shelving the Sabbath worship for six full minutes, wild wah wah pedals are in turn given an airing on the instrumental “New Moon”, a track that otherwise sounds like Hendrix jamming to Guitar Hero as he simultaneously listens to the Sci-Fi channel’s chattering effects.

It’s boggling that a band like this would still bother with the concept of a single, but the shortest track Birth has to offer at five minutes dead “First And Last Men” is just that, its heady tumble of riffs, wandering solos and unforgiving snares close mic’d in technicolour detail by the production skills of Total Control’s Mikey Young. Just five tracks, but nudging three quarters of an hour’s total running time, closing epic “Electric Blanket” conspires to consume a third of this as it goes heavy on rhyming couplets and power sludge. There are undeniable traces of Zeppelin in the mix here, so too early White Stripes, and they combine for a real bout of throwback rock until synth begins to bubble up and down a warm scale that comes on like nascent AI breathing. Growing to a spacey crush supported by complete kraut dominance, it concludes with an ambient passage of solar wind and cymbal shimmer, the equivalent of aural dust left in Birth‘s slipstream. Australia isn’t known for its space programme, but someone’s sure as shit gonna have to explain this powerful surface-to-air launch to the authorities.

Best track: “Electric Blanket”

~Birth is released July 8th 2016 via Castle Face.~