Beth Orton and Folktronica
(This is copied from my blog, sideatrack1.com. To listen to the songs, please drop by.)
While I stubbornly chose to ignore all forms of electronica prior to, uhm, actually listening to it (I know, aghast!), I was nonetheless aware of its mainstream acts in the 90s, including The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, The Prodigy, The Crystal Method and Fatboy Slim. (Much to my eventual dismay, I discovered Massive Attack’s Mezzanine far too late in life.) But what really caught my attention during this period was the voice of Beth Orton, who was an occasional guest singer for The Chemical Brothers early in their career.
Many acts based in electronica (indiscriminately) combined elements of pop, dance, funk, acid jazz, soul and even krautrock, but Beth Orton was the first to successfully blend it with folk. Her first two full-length albums (Trailer Park in 1996 and Central Reservation in 1999) were a perfect fusion of lilting acoustic instrumentation and delicate (sometimes disquieting) digital soundscaping that defied conventional classification. (Technically, SuperPinkyMandy was her debut album, but it had an extremely limited released only in Japan.) I’ve used several songs from these albums on many mixes over the years (starting with cassettes, then MiniDiscs/DATs, then blank CDs, then iTunes Playlists – yes, I’m that old.)
Orton released two more albums, Daybreaker in 2002 and Comfort of Stranger in 2006, but I didn’t quite connect to them as much as the first two. Starting with Daybreaker and fully realized in Comfort of Stranger, her song-stylings became more alt-folk and pop, and far less electronica. If it weren’t for her voice, there really wouldn’t be anything particularly remarkable, but what a voice it is – soulful, haunting and vulnerable with echoes of Dusty Springfield.
Orton’s next album is scheduled for end of 2009.
She Cries Your Name, Beth Orton.
Don’t Need A Reason, Beth Orton.
Sweetest Decline, Beth Orton.
Central Reservation, Beth Orton.