TVD Live: BIRR Presents Orbit Service at The Walnut Room, 11/12

The Walnut Room’s behind-closed-doors, back-room venue exudes the air of delicious exclusivity. At first I thought I had the wrong place last Saturday; the small laid-back pizza parlor seemed like a foreign and gauche environment for a live show.

I quickly tried locating the stage before my confusion became blatant to the boozing patrons, when someone asked me if I was there to see Orbit Service. I was then led to the very back; a door was opened then shut, incasing me in a shadowed, intimate arena. Facing the stage, which was now hard to miss, I exhaled in relief and allowed myself to relax into the ambience.

Brocken Spectre started the night right with some deep beats and experimental electronics that were at once dance-friendly, yet nuanced and rich with underlying melodies. To follow up, In Better Senses also channeled their blend of live electronics nicely, operating mostly from a side corner of the stage. Live driving drums, shoegaze-y guitars, and lush yet minimal IDM textures all served with a doctor-prescribed dose of glitch.

The haze of midnight rolled around, and the crowd by this point had reached its upper limit of diversity. Listeners ranged from the generic beanie-wearing local scenesters to some older folks who looked like they miss-typed the address of their grandson’s piano recital into their GPS and mistakenly wound up at the Orbit Service album release show. The range of evocative tones and textures explored by Orbit Service on stage was no less diverse. Sticking true to the form of their latest studio persona, the last hour of the night was a non-stop marriage of reverb-laden electric guitars, treated acoustics, sweeping analog synth tones, and crisp hallucinatory noise.

Where the new record A Calm Note From The West is a tightly-knit melancholy down-tempo trip, the live versions are filled with more drones and menacing psychedelics. In traditional space out fashion, the set of songs (all taken off the new record) were tied together with plenty of haunted interludes comprising tablas, moaning guitars, buzzing vintage synths, and disturbingly manipulated field and voice recordings. Were it not for the unbroken hypnagogia of the music coupled with the beautiful swirling visuals projected on the stage by VJ DizyPixl, I don’t think this band would’ve gotten away with their non-existent stage presence. But it is clear that Orbit Service is sacrificing guitar windmills in exchange for their singular brand of weary sonic séance, which does anything but disappoint live.

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