Tabs Out | Orchard Thief – The Gentle World

Orchard Thief – The Gentle World

2.26.20 by Ryan Masteller

There’s a certain subset of the outsider tape community that’s about to get all drooly and weird at the very mention of something like “Workingman’s Eno,” the lead track off Orchard Thief’s “The Gentle World” and a perfect amalgamation, in title and execution, of the free and imaginative spirit of experimental musicians everywhere. The synthesizer melody wafts through the room, coating it with a heavenly sheen, literally daring you to not absolutely love it. So what if there’s not riff worthy of Jerry to be found? “Workingman’s Eno” doesn’t need it, and neither do you in this instance. You don’t always need that.

So “The Gentle World” is like … er, “Workingman’s Dead,” I guess, leavened with a heavy dose of “Music for Airports.” Which basically becomes Neu! worship at points, and whatever church they’re worshiping Neu! at is definitely the one that I will start attending on Sundays. (Take that, Lutherans!) Minneapolin Sam Morstad is the nefarious fruit burglar haunting our harvests at night, ripping off our apples and gorging on them until he is fully inspired to create new music as the Orchard Thief. And throughout “The Gentle World,” he channels natural environments into his mostly wordless studies (there’s a choir of friends on “The Body”), feeling infused, I guess, with the forbidden fruit of unsuspecting neighbors. Hey, who am I to judge? A person’s gotta eat.

Actually, a lot of this reminds me of that William Tyler EP where he covers Michael Rother’s “Karussell.” The guitar is understated and forms a rhythmic foundation (along with the actual rhythm) while synthesizers watercolor all over the thing and the place. Morstad loses himself in the worlds he creates, meandering around them and taking everything in at a deliberate pace. No detail is glossed over, no minutiae skipped. It alternates between tranquil beauty and more propulsive tranquil beauty, and hits all the right nostalgia notes without suffering from oversentimentalizing. None of this should not be surprising from an artist who has released works titled “Guitar River” and “Professional Textures.” How do you like them apples?

“The Gentle World” dropped January 24 on Already Dead. Keep your ear to this grindstone: 

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