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CHRISTOPHER ORCZY

REVIEWS

"Ambient music by a local boy. A definite East European feel to this. Prentice says the inspiration comes from his Hungarian heritage. Against a wall of synthesized sound Prentice has painted in bits of cello, violin, and drum. Very moody. It reminded me a little of some of Bowie's work on Low and Heroes. Good production values on this. A promising debut."

SC (Steven Cowan), Presto No. 10, July 1993

 

"Christchurch musician Chris Prentice has released a 20-minute instrumental tape, "Trianon". The concept EP is about the Treaty of Trianon and its effects on Hungary and Hungarians. The treaty, signed in 1920, made peace between Hungary and the "Allied and associated powers". Hungary's complete independence of Austria was recognised. The six-track recording was made using a mellotron, an analog synthesizer and a drum machine, and mastered to DAT at Nightshift Studios. The tape is on sale at Echo Records for $8. Prentice, aged 21, has started work on an album, which he hopes will be released later this year."

Nevin Topp, The Press, 30 July 1993

 

"Chris Prentice is a 21 year old Christchurch musician who has written, performed and recorded this ambient concept EP himself. It is available at Echo Records on cassette for $8 and is worth investigating. Trianon is a 6-track instrumental inspired by a 20th century chapter in Hungarian history and Prentice has used traditional Hungarian folk scales to achieve the desired "eastern bloc" vibe throughout. However, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and perhaps even Vangelis seem to be more obvious influences and touchstones. All the music is produced using various analog synthesizers, a drum machine and a mellotron (an antique keyboard favoured by 1960s bands like The Moody Blues). The gentle synth-timbres are quite soothing, making Trianon the ideal sound to "chill-out" to. Like much ambient music, however, it does meander a little here and there. It might be interesting to hear some more structured material from Prentice."

James Darby, Christchurch Star, Wednesday August 4 1993

 

"In his first official release, Prentice changes direction (From last year's Televisual, a sample/ Gothish demo) to produce this six track which would make a great soundtrack with each track based around an event in Hungarian history. Combining wind instruments, percussion and a dronin keyboard background to produce a mix a Magyarian folk and haunting symphony. Occasionally pretty, often bleak, Prentice could easily become Christchurch's answer to Laibach."

John Greenfield, Rip It Up, No. 193 August 1993

 

 "Buried beneath his electronics, Chris Prentice got things moving with a 40 minute set that reminded me of '70's Eno or Tangerine Dream, but too full bodied and eventful to be dismissed as ambient music. More abstract than the classical melancholy of his Trianon tape release Chris nevertheless held audience interest by constantly shifting dynamics, winding the volume right up at times, but always compensating with passages of great subtley."

David Khan, Canta, Issue 2 March 1994

 

"Synthesised sounds of metamorphosis"

"For the past couple of years, Chris Prentice has been exploring electronically generated soundscapes in a bedroom somewhere in Christchurch. This self released tape is his second move toward sharing his discoveries with the outside world. Prentice works with an assortment of analogue synthesizers and a four-track tape recorder. Judging by one title, he often works in the still of the early hours, patiently layering tones into a gently shimmering, sometimes mournful music. The pace is slow, and melody and rhythm are all but absent. The two shorter tracks are frequently reminiscent of the way the night sky or ocean depths are made to sound on TV documentaries. The title track's grander scale is more successfully meditative, with its slowly twisting, ringing swathes of electronic mist and sunlight. The metamorphosis in question is some natural process, whose graceful unfolding we observe in a series of slow motion closeups which leave the nature of the overall change obscure. Aotearoa boasts several such lone audio venturers. It's a while since Christchurch's P W Sutherland released a tape, but the Blenheim factory worker who goes by the alias Omit has been getting attention through the Sturgeon (once Xpressway) catalogue. Prentice has some way to go to match the complexity and interest of these two musicians' output. At times, simplicity can cut dangerously close to emptiness. Unlike them, however, he sees himself in the (largely German) tradition of popular electronic music (headed by Tangerine Dream). His concerns are different. If you want to escape the beat, then a mere $16 spent at Galaxy or Echo Records will take you a little way further out."

Jonathan Bywater, Christchurch Star, Wednesday, August 10 1994

 

"Instrumental Musings from Christchurch keyboardist"

"Christchurch keyboardist Chris Prentice has released his debut full-length album, "Metamorphosis". Prentice was inspired in making the four-track, 42 minute instrumental tape by the sound of electronic pioneers Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. The musician, 22, recorded "Metamorphosis" with no form of sequencing. "Mega-multi-tracking and digital sequencing have made a lot of electronic music today bland," he says. Prentic invites listeners to imagine their own concepts for the music. Tracks listed are "Tuonela", "Metamorphosis 1", "Metamorphosis 2", and "6am 9-12-93". The album is available at Echo Records and Galaxy Records, for $16."

Alistair Armstrong, The Press, Friday September 2, 1994.

 

"This self-composed, performed and produced work consists mostly of the two-part title track, about 35 minutes in total, with an atmospheric keyboard-based sound. It begins with a rebirth theme, the soundtrack to a day unfolding, welling up with fantasies of light and flight over a bed of earth tones and space noise. Part 2 fades down the day to paths of reflection and rejuvenation. The other two compositions are a moody Vangelis-style piece, and an extension of the title work."

BC (Brent Cardy), Real Groove, February 1995

 

"Eerie ambient adventure"

"Christchurch's Chris Prentice goes where few local music makers dare-to tackle the etheral area of ambient music. His genre is an understated and allusive one, carrying little territoriality, and thus little in the way of hometown acknowledgement. It refuses the traditional ideas of what a "song" is - verse-chorus-verse, lyrics, beginnings, and endings- to the point where the listener often cannot tell where one of the tracks ends and another begins. It also does not breed "radio hit singles", but that is not (hopefully) what the artist intended when he created this eerie soundscape of shifting pace and moods. Forty-seven minutes in length and split into four groups of three songs, "Order" travels from "Second Morning" through to "Goodnight". Along the way, sounds ebb and swell. Gentle throbs and pulses spiral down to silence, and surreal sounds shimmer as though creating incidental theme music for 60's sci-fi movies like "Barbarella" or "Zardoz". In the third set the feeling changes to a more sinister tone, interrupting the flow. "Order" is an album to take in whole, not in part. A good soundtrack for reading, studying, or simply considering."

Darren Sharp, The Press, Friday January 12, 1996

 

"A slice of history in four parts. There are patterns, textures, moments, pauses and reasoning's to all this. Chris Prentice knows this. As an artefact to be interpreted, this is an unbelievably honest work. Prentice gives the listener titels and words. Yet they are his. They are of little meaning to the listener. It is to each of us to place these fragments in one's own time and feelings. Prentice's understanding of landscape and nuance make Order's sprawling textures breathe, sigh and rejoice. Sounds, seconds and feels recall the best of master Brian Eno, through to the delicate ultra-beauty of David Sylvian's instrumentation. This isn't pop music. This isn't music to work against. It is a series of worlds and emotions to meld with."

Chris Mooar, Presto No. 30, April 1996

 

Extraordinarily Picnic Concert, Great Hall, September 27, 2000

(extract) "...Christopher Orczy (When I have fears that I may cease to be)...Orczy evoking huge cathedralic spaces with a haunting soprano over solemn piano chords..."

Patrick Shepherd, The Press, Tuesday October 3 2000

 

Suspended- music from Canterbury University Concert, Great Hall, June 1, 2001

 (extract) "The dispassionate setting of deeply charged emotional texts is a highly attractive feature of Christopher Orczy's Three Maeterlinck Songs, with the continual contrasts of stark beauty, clusters, and open chords. The maxim "less is more" was carried through in ana understated performance which worked well"

Patrick Shepherd, The Press, June 2001

 

"After recording a handful of albums in the mid-'90s, Christopher Orczy completed a music degree in 2002 and the fruits of this experience have now bloomed into the self-released August. Each of the twenty-six 'songs' are entitled their respective recording day of the week and date, which is an analytical concept if not an intriguing one. The 'songs' themselves are like mini scores to irony-free ghost films; as shards of ambient noise from a Parisian harmonium they don't encompass as individual segments, it's only when taken in larger doses that the trapdoor opens. One can envisage any number of seductive scenarios following the (at times barely) audible slithers produced by Orczy. It's an album that points at what's to come on September and October but rather disappointingly doesn't (dramatically speaking) progress through its own month, considering its chronology and the opportunity presented."  

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 133, December 2004/ January 2005

 

"Following on from last issues August set, Christopher Orczy has his new self released album September out. It's pretty difficult to pick out any variance between the two, I mean it's still ambient/ minimalist harmonium, isn't it? Still set to a diary format and still with Christopher's silver birch on the cover. Which isn't to discredit the work, there are again vast clutches of warmth and desire for expression. And going by some of the other ambient artists whose albums have crossed my path of late, you could do way worse."

Adrian Osman, Real Groove Issue 134, February 2005

 

"Somewhere in Christchurch, everyday of the week, Christopher Orczy is making improvised harmonium recordings. These instrumental musings are each named by day and date, and an album of selected tracks prepared monthly. Oh, how home recording has revolutionised the music world. On his website, Orczy laments the lack of interest generated by his previous recordings - perhaps not the best example of self-promotion. This sort of offering will never be destined for the mass market, and for many people it will sound like a slightly creepy soundtrack, missing the movie itself."

Narelle Jackson, Rip It Up #303, Feb/ March 2005

 

"It's an ongoing saga of improvised harmonium from Christchurch artist Christopher Orczy. This month sees the emergence of the self released October and November. Which quite successfully continue the dark dream sequence born in their preceding months recordings. October seems the boldest of the series so far, quite confronting and wilful in the way it grips your attention. The sad and unstoppable kentics of a passing train comes to mind. The gentler November is a consolidation of the three earlier albums, sonically it is (of course) close to identical, but mood is where the element of representation is eked-out. November may have the most brash cover design of the series but it's lees like that in its delivery, more like an unconscious preparation for an upcoming dawn."

Adrian Osman, Real Groove Issue135, March 2005

 

"Dear Mr Orczy of Christchurch, Thank you for sending us your latest monthly installment of your improvised harmonium recordings from The Harmonium Diaries. While I admire your drive in producing an album a month, I must say I am yet to find a suitable time to play them. At home, my guests freaked out. At work, it freaked me out. On the motorway in the dead of night - even the elderly occupants of a passing Honda City scared the bejesus out of me. I am starting to think there is a psychological thriller in production somewhere out there that could use your help with the soundtrack. Best of luck."

Narelle Jackson, Rip It Up #305, June / July 2005

 

"Assiduous ambient producer Christopher Orczy has the next two pieces in his (self released) Harmonium Diaries project out for you to reflect to. 'December' is the more appropriate for the curious, as it's more musical and melodic - like a series of chilly waves reaching out to you - whereas its successor 'January' (the halfway mark in the series) is a harder working recording, a bloomer that ultimately rewards more on repeat plays through its stark, stained windows, which offer the odd glimpse of the Cantabrians soul."

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 139, July 2005

 

"Still catching up with the unrelenting output of Christchurch's Christopher Orczy; the next two self released installments in his Harmonium Diaries series are February and March. Interestingly, February carries on the gentler inflections of not it's immediate predecessor- but December, with the emphasis on a more new age fluidity. By the same token, March reminds me more of January in it's bolder almost hallucinogenic states that it introduces; within the literal sound there seems to be a general swing toward reverb, which is nice"

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 140, August 2005

 

"The eighth album in Orczy's Harmonium Diaries series is more of the same for all you harmonium lovers out there (erm, are you out there?). Which begs the question, how many further installments of this series does Orczy have up his presumably long and flowing sleeves? Does the world really need an album per month of daily harmonium musings? And could Orczy's functional song titles (like Friday 25 b) be any more sterile? This is yet another album of tracks crying out to be used as incidental cinematic music. Intriguingly, when Orczy isn't pumping out recordings, he's photographing his silver birch trees... every single day. As you do. I for one am curious to put a face to his name, but sadly only a blurred out photo appears on www.christopherorczy.co.nz, where you can sample many of his tracks."

Narelle Jackson, Rip It Up #306, August / September  2005

 

"Toil (or at least seeing things through) is something that Christopher Orczy knows something about, here we throw the spotlight on his ninth and tenth CDRs in the Harmonium Diaries series. April initially seemed a bit redundant, it was very similar to March in it;s docile ambient etchings, it wasn't until the wonderfully cinematic Anzac Day that I fully appreciated the work. Anzac Day is the only conceptual passage and throws a far more dramatic slant over preceedings, at eleven minutes it also begs the question, would it not hurt to have longer pieces more often? The May recording rests on a brighter notion. Gone is the fragility, the draw the curtains of the previous two months and in comes the sweep of the outdoors and mother nature. Strange considering the doubtless freeze in the Christchurch weather at the time."

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 142, October 2005

 

"Gaining a position as something as a regular in this column is Christopher Orczy. The Christchurch man has had such a reliable and regulated release schedule that it's at times, been difficult to fully appreciate the control he has over his craft. June and July complete the 12-album diary of 2004-205 with no great alarm, but as always gentle calibre. June is a balanced affair, with plenty of lavish soundscapes giving an aquatic feel. There's the odd darker streak - but the most disturbing is the noise within 'Friday 24', which may be a coughing sound thrown through some effects, but sounds like an iron gate being closed in agitation. July is, of course, the finale in the Harmonium Diaries series and as such acts justifiably as something of a conclusive statement. It's oddly tense and demanding rather than pure subtlety, but at the end of the day a dramatic ambience that by and large follows on from its predecessors.  "

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 144, New Year's Edition 2006

 

"It was December 2004 when the first disc of Christopher Orczy's solo harmonium found it's way to my letterbox, and further installments followed monthly until last November when the Cantabrian keyboardist completed his project: to record, diary style, a year's worh of improvisations. Though the concept is esoteric and Orczy's palette austere, the results are subtly varied, evoking emotional shifts as much as seasonal ones. Mostly the entries are economical, though certain dates - Anzac Day, for instance - inspire pieces that are longer and more sombre. For those not ready or willing to undertake the whole 12-disc marathon, a single-disc selection is offered in Some Days while a further disc, Altered Days, features reconstructions by a range of fellow experimentalists"

Nick Bollinger, New Zealand Listener Vol. 202 No. 3429, January 28-February 3 2006

 

"Following on from his mammoth Harmonium Diaries series Christopher Orczy self-releases two more albums. The first is Some Days a selection of cuts from each of the months of the Diaries albums, which I'm not going to get into. The second is the rather more interesting Altered Days that sees Orczy's work given the remix/ reconstruction treatment. This probably didn't come about in the 'glamorous artists getting heavily drunk throwing challenging ideas across the table at each other and then having to back up said boasts the next day' fashion, but rather from behind computer screens. Whatever, the end result has breathed new life into the Cantabrian's sketches; it's mostly spatial and gentle electronic flourishes leading them to a more varied and (let's face it) commercial plateau. 'What is the point of all this', the May reconstruction by Mosca could almost be a single had it not been nearly eight minutes and Milieu's February reconstruction ('Endless Green MMX') has great use of looped nature sounds beneath the harmonium and processed beats. Altered Days is a welcome epilogue  "

Adrian Osman, Real Groove, Issue 146, March 2006