I have waited a long while to tell you about his incredible creation, this work that has taken him in and out of quite some years, and now I can. The One Two Bird And The Half Horse is here.
I have watched over two years as these most intricate of outpourings grew. As Tui made and remade these twelve beautiful sound sculptures with infinite care, I learnt that his craft is like mine, but the hairs of his paintbrushes are the most delicate of violin notes, and his paint is birdsong, netted from the bedroom window at dawn. I have never known anyone so heartfelt about the work he does. And it is this heart-feeling that he weaves amongst the melodies he makes with many strange and wonderful instruments. There are zithers and whistles and bells and fiddles and erhus and Uzbek changs and fence-twangs and melodicas and accordions and beautiful voices from Georgia and Japan and France and Scotland and birds and clarinets and cellos and creaky chairs and sewing machines and flugel horns and Tibetan singing bowls and pianos and music boxes and children's songs. And all of these are taken like threads on a laptop-loom and woven, with a quite extraordinary ear for detail together.
Tui is often asked what kind of music he makes, and this is an almost impossible question to answer. For him nature is his cello string, whether it be to record the rain on the tin roof of an abandoned house, or place a microphone close by the pebbles shifting at the sea's edge. Together with these collected voices of wild instruments he weaves into a precisely chosen part of the tapestry small lines of melody, sometimes played by him, and sometimes imagined by him but sung in imaginary words by others. And then he listens, sometimes for days, inside the womb of the music, until he hears more chinks in the warp and weft, where he gently places a harmony made from electronically altered footsteps or the rustlings of something that could be moth wings. And then maybe he takes a whistle and plays just two more notes, long and barely there, and lays them, repeated like a playground song, two octaves away from where they started and bouncing from ear to ear, like a blanket over the whole music as if to tuck it into bed for the night.
The One Two Bird and The Half Horse is Tui's second album, and in his sphere (seemingly named "folktronica") Orla Wren is quietly rather successful. This beautiful work has received some eloquent and deserved praise already (a few here below), though it has only just been released, on the Japanese Flau label. I am enormously proud.
A dream I would like to return to... ~Ben Eshmade
...these porcelain pirouettes are possessed and woven of a beautifully demurred tapestry that‘s all at once untamed and pure, not so much primitive but rather more natural, the melodies appear like daydreaming serenades, barely there, as though like flickering apparitions caught from the corner of the eye, willowy and fragile, partly hazy and blurred seemingly just out of focus, their free spirited timbres idyllically teased with an unreal arresting tenderness as they sway murmuring like woodland opines caught adrift upon a delicate breeze... ~The Sunday Experience
...au vu de la petite fille crayonnée qui sert de pochette, et à entendre la voix fébrile, haut perché, qui s’échappe des morceaux, vous allez penser qu’Orla Wren est une fragile petite fée, qui dépose ses disques discrètement sur le rebord de nos fenêtres... ~Delicious Scopitone
Les pattes craquantes des insectes s’occupent des percussions, tandis que les toiles d’araignées se tendent dans le vent pour vibrer doucement, harpes minuscules. ~Delicious Scopitone
... achingly lovely ... ~Boomkat
I have been enormously privileged to see inside the making of such unique music.
And even more so to have my scratchy pencil drawings adorn the album sleeve, my flute and clarinet and accordion meanderings to be mixed into the music and be asked to tell an animated story around one of the tracks.
For many months I sat crouched in our Scottish attic moving tiny pieces of paper underneath a camera to tell the pencil-drawn tale of The Fish and The Doll. And here it is at long last.
There is another film on the album too... made by Tui from little snippets of film of my family and me when I was just five. These he has made black and white and layered with old photographs, and exploiting my Dad's original wobbly video camera technique, he has created a glimpsed evocation of childhood, half remembered, and half longed-for. The First Born Daughter of Water.
Both of these films are for tracks featuring the amazing vocals of Georgia born Russudan Meipariani. We do hope you like them.
Tui sees the world in a very beautiful way. Like me he always notices the outsider, the one who is innocent or old, who has known madness or has lines of sad experience etched around her eyes. Those who long to hold hands with these folk will hear what Tui is trying to say in his music. Orla Wren is for these people and about these people, and if you are one of them it is for you.
These songs are fragments of a yearning with no name. They will evoke in you a childhood, down amongst the grass blades, where it was once possible to find sunlight floating in a puddle and make stories for all tomorrow's mayflies.
The songs' names are as beautiful as their sounds, and you must listen to them alone, sitting by a tree or at the edge of a hill. Put the music right into your ears so that you can hear every lilt and scuttle, so that you can find that place in you where your tears began.
Here are some places where Orla Wren can be found...
orla wren on myspace
orla wren at flau
You can buy the album from cargo records here
sideways through sound (A psychedelic reverie of a radio station half way round the world who made The One Two Bird And The Half Horse the featured album on the show a few weeks ago.)
orla wren blog
orla wren at expanding records (the home of his acclaimed debut album Butterfly Wings Make)
& on street corners and village greens of Europe playing wonkily handmade instruments alongside my yet-to-be-made puppet theatre...
The lovely delicate photographs of frosty leaf, downy seed-head, foggy trees and moth-cocoon are Tui's too :)