Orpheu the Wizard has a magic touch at finding records that fall between the gaps in music - oddities, curios, the weird, the wonderful. But that's just half the trick. It takes a sensitive and selective ear to construct a coherent, accessible narrative from them. So you get DJs who can play for the crowd and "selectors" adept at mining the black gold. In Orpheu, you've got yourself someone who can do both. On a festival main stage, he can keep it weird enough for the heads. In an audiophile setting, he'll keep the flow.
These skill sets come into play on the fifth The Sound of Love International compilation. Jumping between genres, decades, continents, the truly rare, and many B-side cuts that passed you by. But never eclecticism for its own sake; this collection makes sense. Orpheu never loses sight of the listener - he's a friendly and knowledgeable guide to the cosmic outer reaches.
He opens his account with the warm, psychedelic electronics of Drawing Future Life, with ‘1969’. Tucked away on the B-side of an LP of ambient/trance hailing from Fukuoka, this is a very pretty piece of music on a truly rare piece of wax. Then, leapfrogging a couple of decades and timezones, we have Rutuu Poiss' "IHATSIN." Off-kilter, experimental sounds with an endearing melodic hook, followed up by the with lethargic ambient breakbeat of Digital Distortion's "Mellow Bug".
On the B-side, things start to get lively. French Audacity featuring Valerie's "That Fine One" is Gallic garage that has simultaneously got it hugely wrong and massively right. Owing as much to new wave as New York house, this is propulsive and quirky dance music at its finest. Next, we're on a ferry over the channel for DJ Spike and "Gaps In Space." Up-tempo electro with a fondness for sampled vocal cut-ups, like its predecessor.
lnterdance's "Kurz" (another B-side) is the perfect segway - house from 1990 with that sweet, slightly goofy naivete. Things move toward the gnarly with Bad Behaviour and "Living on Smoke," a lesser-known cut on the legendary Atmosphere records. The tempo edges upward on "Systematic Input" by Frequency, hectic hardcore techno that still retains a lightness of touch.
"Lushes" by Diffusion spins us off into space, filigree techno with an emotive trance edge. The chiming intro of "Blue to Be Happy" by MFA lulls us into a sense of false security before massively putting the boot in with a pounding kick drum, bassline, and arpeggiation. From there, it's a sharp left turn into the urban psychedelic dub of R.I.P's "E.O Pan" on cult label Digi Dub.
Sticking with UK sound system music but taking it down a notch, Orpheu closes proceedings with a leftfield reggae excursion from the master of the mixing desk, Mad Professor’s"Oh Hell".
It's a compilation as varied as the many moods and grooves of Love International itself - from sun-dappled olive groves to moments deep in the strobes. This is serious music for party freaks or party music for serious freaks. Tisno is calling.
Published: 8th June 2023