orbé orbé- Invisible Kingdoms

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Invisible Kingdoms by orbé orbé may be one of the most diverse albums I have come across in recent memory. The group, which was created by singer/songwriter Cristina Orbé, seems to be oriented towards pop yet the material never sounds the same from one track to the next like you might expect from that branding. Sometimes being all over the place stylistically can be a negative element of a band’s music, yet the exact opposite is true in this case as Invisible Kingdoms genre hops with ease while still offering a cohesive and engaging sound.

There’s a continuing sense of adventure throughout this album, and while Cristina Orbé may help to tie everything together it’s hard to predict just where the instrumentals are going to go from one song to the next. The opening track “Let Me In” is a perfect example of this, offering a mix of sounds that feels like equal parts pop and theatrical flair that transforms into an extremely mellowed out and dreamy style three quarters of the way through. This type of unpredictability is a regular part of Invisible Kingdoms, but once the sense of discovery from that first listen wears off it becomes clear that there’s substance to back up all of the stylistic changes. There’s a lot going on here, and once the electronic elements kick in the sound branches out even more. orbé orbé touches upon genres like dream pop, drum ‘n bass, soul, electronica, and even full-on rock that ends up providing much more of a kick than I was initially expecting. I was reminded of Goldfrapp from both their bombastic synth pop and dreamy folk/pop days, as there’s a similar dynamic happening throughout this release and I think that’s one of the main reasons that this album grabbed me as much as it did. However, Invisible Kingdoms does seem to fly by a bit too quickly as it’s over in a little under half an hour and there were some songs that felt like they could’ve been expanded upon. Perhaps if orbé orbé continues to pull off a more theatrical or avant-garde feel they could try to tackle some lengthier arrangements that have even more twists and turns, as it seems like they would definitely pull it off.

If you’re going to offer pop oriented hooks, all the instrumental variety in the world isn’t very effective if you don’t have a capable vocalist to back it up. This is where Cristina Orbé really excels, as while the instrumentals have plenty of hooks I get the impression that a lot of the material was written in a way that capitalizes on the nuances of her voice. Orbé delivers a consistently strong performance, sometimes going for a much more subdued, dreamy approach before launching into a much louder energetic style. I’m not one to touch upon lyrical content in reviews as this is an area I feel is best left to the listener to interpret as an individual, but will mention that it feels like a story is being told on each track and the narrative offers a bit more complexity than your average pop release.

Invisible Kingdoms does exactly what a debut album should, as it establishes orbé orbé as a versatile group with some strong hooks while still leaving plenty of room for growth. I would like to see some longer arrangements that further integrate some of the stylistic jumps seen from one song to the next into a single track, but the strength of the instrumental and vocal work on this release still makes it worth returning to. It has become harder over the years for anything with the pop tag to catch my attention, but orbé orbé’s playfulness and sudden bursts of intensity help them to stand out in a fairly crowded space.

http://www.orbe-orbe.com/

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