Not On The Map

New Album

Release date:
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Strictly Confidential

Aarich Jespers and Kobe Proesmans of The Colorist Orchestra are best known as interpreters and reimagineers, bringing their melodic percussion and avant-classical approach to other people’s songs. Howe Gelb is forever swerving and advancing, with a 50-album discography that includes Giant Sand’s underground guitar-skronk classics, solo piano and pump-organ mood poems, standards, country-and-Southwestern, and even gospel and flamenco. Now, with "Not On The Map" (Dangerbird), which also features singer-songwriter Pieta Brown, the Belgian arrangers and the Arizona vagabond have made something entirely new.

From the syncopated, noirish overture of “Counting On,” to the jaunty, jaundiced “More Exes,” Not On The Map is an ambitious, opposites-attract marriage: the sound of two great artists both in harmony and dissonance, with breathtaking results.

Best-known for their 2016 collaboration, The Colorist and Emiliana Torrini, The Colorist Orchestra has also toured and recorded with Sumie, Cibelle, Gabriel Rios and Lisa Hannigan. With eight members including Jespers and Proesmans, who are percussionists, TCO is both maximalist and minimalist, eschewing traditional rock instruments or amplification for unusual, even previously unheard sounds. They’re inspired by experimental composers, homemade instruments, field recordings, noise-rock, jazz and nature.

Until now, all of The Colorist Orchestra’s previous releases were built around meticulously rehearsed and arranged live performances of songs from their collaborator’s catalog. But Not On The Map is entirely new material, with six original songs credited to both Gelb and the Colorist Orchestra, plus two by Brown, an instrumental, and an otherworldly cover of the John Hartford (by way of Glenn Campbell) classic “Gentle On My Mind.”

Regardless of whether they were in the studio together (as at the beginning of the project) or doing tracks remotely (as for all of the pandemic), Gelb felt that same sense of magic and connection. He says that whenever he put the headphones on to sing, he felt like he was Frank Sinatra in front of The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and they were all in the same room. “It has been nothing short of enchanting,” he says. “How they pull it apart and how they reassemble it. It wakes you up. It wakes the songs up.”

  • More Exes