Hidden Orchestra live
As far as venues go, Nottingham Contemporary is an ideal place for a band such as Hidden Orchestra. Their approach towards the fusion of jazz and electronica proves that they are one of those bands that truly appreciate the art in music, and an art gallery is a wonderfully apt place to showcase such atmospheric music and astounding musicianship.
The set was an equal mix of old tracks and their eagerly awaited new album, Archipelago. Favourites such as the elegant Strange make a welcome appearance, with Poppy Ackroyd taking clearly taking charge and driving the main themes forward as she switches between keyboard and violin (which she plucks to fantastic effect for the haunting 6/8 wind-down). Dust also rears its head with trumpet player Phil Cardwell ably performing a complex and demanding fill throughout the track that eventually culminates in a spoken word sample and wobbling upright bass lines.
After Undergrowth, in which the violin and trumpet harmonies accentuate the melancholic and sinister undertones further than the album version, band leader Joe Acheson humbly thanks the audience and declares an end to the “downbeat” part of the set. Opening the “upbeat” part of the set with a new song, drummer Tim Lane suddenly breaks out a trombone just when you think the display of musicianship and talent has peaked.
Lane and Jamie Graham get a chance to shine even more than usual during previously unreleased track The Burning Circle, where they take part in a call-and-response drumming duel that brightly unveils their proficiency for jazz licks and extended fills.
Continuing with Flight, one cannot help but be impressed by Acheson’s musicianship. Despite spending time twiddling with electronics and switching between upright bass and a regular bass guitar within a very small space of time, he never misses a note and the band retains its tight professionalism effortlessly where so many others have surely failed or narrowly missed the mark.
The set ends with Antiphon, whose climax demanded a standing ovation from the audience and such adamant demands for an encore that the band duly obliged.
Regretfully, due to equipment troubles, Keaver & Brause couldn’t make an appearance for the wind-down. However, Wigflex’s Metske made a last minute appearance and played an excellent set in the luxurious gallery bar that was well-suited to the scene and situation. Scattered between monolithic electronic beats and cold machine textures were moments of delicacy which brought the mix into a class of its own and only heightens anticipation for his next release.
Hidden Orchestra played at Nottingham Contemporary on Friday 28 September 2012.