A document of fatherhood that results in a gentle creative re-birth...

There’s an age-old truism about becoming a father, and the manner in which the prosaic is suddenly rendered profound, as you glimpse the world for the very first time through someone else’s eyes. That could certainly explain the extraordinary beauty that rings Orlando Weeks’ debut solo album ‘A Quickening’, composed – we are told – in the aftermath of the birth of his son. A record blessed with a beatific atmosphere and haloed sense of sound, it’s a sumptuous listen, a softly cinematic journey that feels brilliantly refreshing.

Of course, it’s a re-birth of sorts. Discarding Orlando’s actually-really-good festive project ‘The Gritterman’, this new album is his first full length project since the end of The Maccabees, and it finds the frontman in a uniquely exposed position. Secluding himself inwards, it’s an introspective statement, with its hushed tones, pensive atmosphere, and gorgeous, organic palette. In fact, ‘A Quickening’ undoubtedly has more in common with, say, a Nils Frahm project than a Maccabees style indie banger.

‘Blood Sugar’ is the restive sound of someone watching the clouds go by, while the gentle electronic pulse of ‘Takes A Village’ quite literally shrouds you in a womb-like course of sound. ‘All The Things’ is shot through with half-obscured light, it’s opaque palette dwelling on suggestion over statement, revelling in the gentle power of ideas half-formed.

Indeed, much of ‘A Quickening’ rests on Impressionist-like daubs of sound – the sheer sonic comfort of ‘Safe In Sound’ for example, or the tinkling piano notes of ‘St. Thomas’, which recall James Blake in their Pointillist revelry.

A record that gently shifts on to fresh ground, ‘A Quickening’ removes the umbilical cord that leads to the past, finding some kind of emotional correlative in unprocessed audio. ‘Summer Clothes’ is dappled in sunlight, while ‘Blame Or Love Or Nothing’ offers up shadow and suggestion, its gorgeous vocal pinned against the merest splash of sound.

Gentle rivulets of sound, ‘A Quickening’ closes with the undulating synaesthesia of ‘Dream’, Orlando’s choir boy vocal soaring up into the rafters. An album that leaves a profound impact in the softest manner possible, ‘A Quickening’ thrills with its pin-prick intensity, with its phantom-like layers of sound. In documenting fatherhood, Orlando Weeks has emerged as a songwriter renewed.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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