By: Cameron Piko
Sion Orgon | facebook | bandcamp |
Explaining how Sion Orgon’s latest album Recognition Journal opens is no easy task. Part Stockhausen-esque musique concrète, part exploratory free jazz, part blissful electronica ala Tangerine Dream, “The Black Spider of The Garden” puts everything out there with a very ambitious choice of opening track. Orgon is perhaps best known for his earlier albums that featured collaborations with Christopherson and Balance from Coil, or from playing on Thighpaulsandra’s solo work. This album finds him writing all of the material, co-writing three of the six tracks Thighpaulsandra. These pieces (including the aforementioned opener) are by far the most experimental, encouraged perhaps by Thighpaulsandra’s love of musique concrète.
After “The Black Spider”, we’re introduced to an entirely different Orgon. “Pool of Tigers”, with its soft, melodic vocal line, serenely strummed acoustic guitars and accordion, sounds like a Steven Wilson track by way of a Parisian café. Yet while the song is undeniably catchy and melodic, the piece is bookended by sound collages and harsh noises. You never forget what album you’re listening to.
The rest of the album is seems to sit somewhere between the extremes of these two songs. The title track is reminiscent of an 80s goth-pop piece. A pulsing bass line moves the music forward amidst harsh guitars, and Orgon’s surprisingly poppy vocals provide a human quality to the otherwise cold surroundings. Meanwhile, “Erasing Deep Set Habits” creates an atmosphere of dread through the complete lack of melodicism and preference of noises over notes in its first half. The interchanging of noise with beautiful vocals makes an album that sits comfortably in the ears; the divergence into musique concrète is never long enough to make you feel the need to change the track, nor do the melodic vocal lines hang around too long to fall into cliché.
Overall, this combination makes the album very seductive – Orgon’s vocals lure the listener in, only to disappear for sinister and sometimes frightening soundscapes. With this technique, Recognition Journal manages to toe the line of being both avant-garde and accessible, a commendable feat! The job complete, the album closes with “Chain Spine Chine”, where waves of manipulated piano calmly wash over the ears and make for a tranquil, almost post-rock track with a dark underbelly.
Recognition Journal is a diverse and interesting album and one that doesn’t overstay its welcome with its six tracks. Needless to say, bring your best headphones – you’ll be rewarded.