Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

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Album Review: Labyrinth Ear – The Orchid Room

2 min read

Following on from the success of their highly acclaimed 2012 EP Apparitions, UK electro-pop duo Labyrinth Ear are back with their debut album The Orchid Room. Emily and Tom, brought together by mutual tastes in music and bound by contrasting influences, continue to create their mystical brand of fantasia pop in The Orchid Room.

LabyrinthEarTheOrchidRoomTheir full-length debut opens with the inquisitive track Blue Apple. With Emily’s delicate vocals gliding above ghostly synths and churning percussion, the listener is graciously invited to appease their curiosity as layer upon layer of alluring music leads into the vibrant Lorna. Sparkling ascending synth phrases and staccato accompaniment support Emily’s beautifully legato voice, while the percussion adds the aspect of the exotic – taking us from the pastoral English landscape to somewhere otherworldly.

Labyrinth Ear illustrate their ability to dreamily materialise a concept or image in Droplets of Pearl, using folky melodies juxtaposed against pizzicato strings to perfectly capture its text. When Emily’s childlike voice is all but removed, in instrumental interlude Grey Dove, something much more unsettling is revealed in the lingering darker, electronic sound, which continues in eerie track Urchin. The supernatural, submerged atmosphere, created by deep bass and outlying glimmering chimes, is fully realised by the lyric “into the water bed”. There is an intensity and anxiety about this track, which exposes glimpses of Asian influences in its sporadic melodies, which sound almost as if they were played on an electronic erhu.

The haunting atmosphere created by the duo is seamlessly turned into something danceable in Burnished Bronze. There’s something cinematic about this track, its folky lyrics, fragile vocals, various retro influences and hazy production imagine an expedition to somewhere completely foreign, either across oceans or inwardly.

Labyrinth Ear constantly hint at their various influences, from the African-inspired percussion of Lorna, to the pentatonic melodies of Amber, The Orchid Room arrives at a track whose introduction sounds like it could have been on the soundtrack to Top Gun. While Marble Eyes is one of the most distinctive, wistful tracks on the album; its beautiful peripheral piano melodies and harp arpeggios create an atmosphere that seems to linger with you perpetually.

Rounding out the album is the undulating electro-pop track Crescent Moon that is at once melancholic and funky, gradually inviting us to leave the album in much the same way as we entered. The Orchid Room is an album that strikingly articulates the ambience and character of the seemingly inhuman duo. While it is comfortingly rustic and folky on the surface, Labyrinth Ear invite us to sink into an ethereal journey that is “twisting and blurring” underneath.