Press for Dark Orchard - Blossom


 

Dark Orchard - Blossom Review - Steve Sheppard, One World Music, London, U.K.

This album came in through my window like the fresh air of spring that floats all around me now, using spoken audio and some amazing electronica Dark Orchard has not only brought us something new and refreshing, but something undeniably powerful and meaningful with many messages.

We start our journey off with the track Ashley Sugarnotch, this curiously named title is full of the energy and power previously mentioned and the driving beat reminding me somewhat of Geigertek’s Soundtrack for City Living album back in 2011, the composition it’s self is an opening powerhouse of rhythm and purpose.

Time dear reader for some Latin Chill out and probably one of my favourite tracks off the album called Qichwa. Once more the rhythm sways us through a stunning melodic and blissful four minutes plus of sun kissed electronica, there was something very endearing about this composition that keeps me wanting to play it over and over again, the chords used are part of the answer, but in truth this is just a very good song indeed and extremely addictive to listen to as is the next one!

Dear reader and listener, you will find it hard not to laugh out loud to this piece it’s called Waterloo Clyde and Dark Orchard have indeed created something very unique here with the audio samples of a rather posh English accent, pulling the finishing punch lines off of a myriad of jokes through the last century to a real funky jazzy beat, quite simply this is brilliantly hilarious, I can see this being played many times on our station.

Nice percussion and some sweet Jazz with a plunging bass greet our ears for this next piece, the electronic piano is sublime in its creation of the atmosphere and all the while the back drop of what seems to be a Russian accent chatters on in the piece entitled Eduard. After listening to this track I will be forwarding this album to our Jazz presenter and trumpeter Paul Higgs for a listen, I am sure he would appreciate the brilliant brass here.

At the half way juncture we come across a piece called Black Beach. Now you have to admire the grand opening of this composition, immediately creating an ambient soundscape for us to wallow within, this is a track that swirls around you like the warm haze on a mid-summer day, the synths here, whilst powerful are almost ethereal, but manifest this extremely surreal, but masterful inner dimension for us to all enjoy, which I of course did, with pleasure.

Isabela is up next, another piece with a driving and powerful percussive beat, not quite in the same style as Dutch electronic wizard Frank Pels, but not too far removed, the pulse in this piece is very deep and the spaciousness that the track brings to our ears, has so many nuances contained within you may need a second or a third listen to truly appreciate them.

Now we arrive, dear listener, at the longest composition on the album Blossom by Dark Orchard, it is called Ruby. Striking a similarity to Markus Ruters recent release, The Sultry Kissing Lounge, with a whole album based on girls names. Here however, is a composition that has more definition that the previously aforementioned album and a tempo and rhythm all of its own, the light percussion works superbly and the ambient keyboards create an almost mystical piece of great quality.

Never try and second guess where this album is going to go, you will never be able to do it, Dark Orchard are both unique and delightfully unpredictable, for me this is part of the appeal, just listen to the bass on Floreana. The spoken audio is back, but this piece has a beat that is deeply sensual and almost erotic, the synths and keyboards dance around the steady drum beat and bring forth a beautifully balanced composition that seems to almost slow down time itself.

So we arrive, dear reader and listener, at the penultimate piece off the album Blossom by Dark Orchard and the offering given for you to enjoy is called Learn to Stop Worrying (Duck and Cover). The dark humour here is based on some of the ridiculous propaganda given out on the media during the late 50’s early 60’s, about what to do in event of a nuclear war, the danceable beat almost jokes with the content, the message simply is, if they drop a nuclear bomb remember you will stand a better chance if you duck and take cover, but remember to keep smiling. This music could have been used for those commercials back then, this is both clever and inventive and as always to this day, the government’s message is of course the same as it always is and was, fear everything at all times, but keep smiling and buying products folks!

So once again we find ourselves at the end of another of another musical river, the bridge has been lowered and the sails dropped, but just enough time to listen to the most amazingly beautiful title track Blossom.

This is quite a stunning and reflective way to end a thrilling ride of a musical journey, this is a piece that is almost like a lullaby, but works superbly to end our trip and softly caresses us as we listen.

Blossom is one of the most unique and enjoyable albums that I have listened to in years, you can never predict where it is going, but the musicianship and production quality and thought that has gone into this project is incredible and as such I recommend that you to get a copy of this for your album collection, I can guarantee you will be playing it for years to come.


Dark Orchard - Blossom - 3.9 out of 5 - By Jason Simpson - The Equal Ground - February 20, 2015

The term post-rock is a vague and nebulous term that means a lot of different things to different people. It went from being used to describe rock n’ roll that incorporated elements of dub, electronica and world music, describing bands like Bark Psychosis, Slint and the elegiac Talk Talk; to being used as a shorthand for jazz-infused instrumental rock out of Chicago - Tortoise, Stereolab, The Sea And Cake - before finally settling into the stereotypical form most people think of, instrumental rock bands that build to a swirling and cacophonous crescendo, usually measured out by dour bands with long names.

Dark Orchard, the brainchild of longtime percussionist Jim Casson, could be considered both "pre" and "post" rock, as Casson incorporates elements of both pre-Elvis music that transport the listener to a funky radioactive bomb shelter party, as well as incorporating futuristic electronics, world instruments and rhythms.

What happened to post-rock in the 2000s seems like the greatest waste of potential, the ultimate co-opting. Post-rock, with its roots in jazz, dub, and classicism, inspired musicians to REALLY know how to play, while still retaining the primal force and fury of rock and roll. It was an early rumble of the post-cultural that we all live and breathe, every second of every day. Music that strives to break out of its cultural molds and boxes seems like the most honest, and most relevant, to today's world.

Yet too often, when inspired by another culture's music, musicians merely ape the thing, pretending they are a Nicaraguan folk band, or some South African trance rappers. That's not honest and genuine, either - just more co-opting of distant cultures for personal gain. Musical colonialism.

Jim Casson and Dark Orchard take inspiration from all over but make it their own. In the process, they make some of the most compelling, world-influenced electronica I've heard.

Casson cites Deep Forest as an inspiration for Blossom, and I'm glad he brought it up, as they serve as the perfect foil for Dark Orchard's pan-global vision. Deep Forest came to fame by stitching some samples of indigenous people over some generic ethno-techno beats and synth. One of their first hits "Sweet Lullaby" credited the vocal sample of pygmies from Australia but was actually a vocal snippet from the Solomon Islands (which are 2038 miles away from Australia, almost the width of the entire United States). Deep Forest was fostering, or merely reflective, of a kind of digital exotica, a sense that all faraway people and places were the same in their difference. It was all wacky and far off, the final echoes of the 1950s.

Dark Orchard and Jim Casson set the record straight on Blossom by actually speaking conversationally in a wide variety of musical styles from 1950 to present. There's ethnotrance ("Ashley Sugarnotch"), some digital calypso, ("Qichwa"), some New Orleans second line, complete with nonsensical and abstract vocal samples ("Waterloo Clyde") to cool jazz ("Eduard"). What is impressive is when Dark Orchard does cool jazz, it stands up next to early electric-era Miles Davis, while their world fusion grooves go deeper into the woods than Deep Forest, are more believable, more nuanced, more controlled. More familiar.

Dark Orchard heralds a new age of world-influenced instrumental rock, an easy peace between jazz, electronics and progressive rock. At least two of those genres have slid into the slime of satire, so Dark Orchard are performing a prime service


Dark Orchard - Blossom - Yeah I Know It Sucks U.K. - Kai Nobuko - June 12, 2015

Jim Casson is a busy bee; he drums, plays percussion, keyboards, cherry tanks, samples, animoog and a delicious Theremin. Busy as this musician is, we can’t really blame him for signing up for a music submit service to do mailings and promotions for him, as a multi-instrumentalist like Jim has simply no hands and time left to type emails and promo mails to get the word about his album out.

The service that should have made the life of Jim easier did in fact disappoint by informing him that they had submitted his album to our humble blog. But whatever happened with the virtual mail deliverer; this mail had never been received or seen over here. An unfortunate event in which the dilemma once again pops up with artists trusting those services with their hard earned coins in order for them to pass on a message, so that suckers like us can write a passionate penniless review..

There is simply something not right about it, especially when the service brags about having submitted music to our team of exclusive YIKIS writers, and none of them saw or received this submission. It sucks… But the music captured on this fine album definitely not sucks at all! Luckily Jim Casson mailed us personally so we are still able to share this album with our eager readers.

Straight from the start this album goes for a hypnotic music session in which every instrument works together to create a spacious form of groove to trip on. The bass is so funky, the synthesizer squeezes out the best lines and the programmed samples really seems to be one and at comfort with each other. The result is something that will make you instantly forget about the problems in the world and simply put your mind away in a pleasant vibe of feel good funky music.

Next up is the friendly sentimental sounding ‘Qichwa’ that sounds like music made for those fantastic summer nights at a pleasant beach or hanging out at the boulevard with a relaxing drink among some good friends. The rhythm here is again irresistible, very fine and easy going to sink your head in and let it drive you. The sunny guitar melody is hopelessly romantic and does its best to give the feeling as if you are on vacation with not a single worry upon your mind. What a blessing!

And the good music vibes team up with good humor in the next tune named ‘Waterloo Clyde’, here a clean cut English sounding voice over delivers dada punch lines while kindly guiding the listeners through this heavy brass work that keeps the mood fun and comical. Good luck with someone wanting to write a negative review over here as the music simply won’t allow it! Really nice, Borat would say.

The music captured under the name of ‘Eduard’ won’t disappoint either, going for a midnight jazz vibe that lovers of Chet Baker might want to spoon up in pure delight. The recording quality of this album really seems to come out over here; it sound crystal clear and professional without losing the warm sound of it being played out in a respected music bar environment. The trumpet is sounding so nice and warm, as if it replaced the eyes as the mirror of the soul. Add that with the bass, the shaking rhythm and modern use of samples and you will hear the sound of the future mixing kindly with the past. The best of both world really..

‘Black Beach’ is proof that Jim Casson isn’t afraid to experiment and entertain music lovers with out of the ordinary sounding compositions. Here everyone’s favorite mystique instrument the Theremin seems to have a prominent role in the back ground, along with kind sounding dreamy synth work that calmly waves along. The two friends capture a dreamy form of music, something that feels raw and loose, just as if it came out of the blue inspired by a beautiful nostalgic view.

Jim Casson (and friends) keeps this music journey on a path of dreams and beauty. With ‘Isabela’ the ambient atmosphere in the pleasant sounding hypnotic mellowness gets the fine treatment of a fine drum groove, making enough source for energy to be finally being able to have a soundtrack to enjoy action, while relaxing at the same time. I have no idea who this ‘Isabela’ is, but hearing this, she must be beautiful and kind.

Another track that might be carrying a name of an actual person is Ruby. Personally I think it’s one of those names that is socially accepted as a male and female name. The music version captured over here by Jim Casson also seems to have taken a step towards sexless music. It’s perfectly okay to listen and enjoy no matter the body you are trapped in, as strangely all ears work the same, and this kind music softly flows in like a calm progression of love. And with this nicely performed love progression doing its sexless thing, there is no reason to not engage in a lovely romance with someone you love (either being with yourself or actually sharing this moment with someone else; might be a lovely and pleasantly romantic thing to do)

The album then makes way for a track named ‘Floreana’, it’s here that the music creates a wonderful mood that feels a bit like it could be the soundtrack for a love scene in a movie. For some strange reason I have to think about the ‘Dick Tracey’ movie and how much it missed such a scene and actually good music like this sexy mood played out over here.

The album takes a nice fun swift into a nice joy-able direction by reintroducing the announcement of the atomic bomb. The original (and quite frankly hilarious) ‘duck and cover’ instructions are functioning as the vocals on this funky and funny sounding shaking of a groovy tune. This is the moment in which ‘duck and cover’ turns into a interactive dance move instead of propaganda. Learn to stop worrying and have lots of fun!

After the instant dance party that appeared here in the reviewers’ office by spinning the previous tune way too loud, Jim Casson returns some peaceful environmental good bye music to the experience. This is named ‘Blossom’ and is the final end of this lovely journey.

It’s no surprise that it all sound so real and good, as Jim (the multi-instrumentalist) has a whole collection of fine musicians guest appearing on this album: Jeff Agopsowicz (trombone), Don Baird (Moog synthesizer) ,Brent Barkman (organ) , Raoul Bhaneja (voice) ,N. Jay Burr (tuba), Gordon Cleland (cello), Bernie LaBarge (guitar), Bill Melymuka (trumpet, flugelhorn), Rich Moore (upright bass), Jamie Oakes (dobro) all have laid out wonderful contributions to the music of Jim Casson, and without further hesitation I would be very happy to provide you with a link from where this lovely album can be obtained in exchange for some of your money:


Casson releases new solo album - The Voice of Pelham - November 25, 2014

Fenwick drummer, Jim Casson released his first solo album in 2012. “Dark Orchard” was the result of ideas accumulated over nearly 30 years as a full time musician and over 60 albums that he had performed on. It was an Ambient Music experiment that met with much critical acclaim and garnered him a nomination for “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the Niagara Music Awards.

Now, 2 years later, he has just released his 2nd Dark Orchard album, “Blossom”. “The problem with a 2nd album” Casson muses, “is that for a first album, you’ve had your whole life to come up with ideas for it. Now you have to come up with new ideas in a much shorter amount of time.” “With the first CD I was able to look back at it and decide what really worked, what didn’t work as well and what direction I would like to go with my next one”. “One thing I came to realize is that on the first CD I actually only played drums on 2 songs. It was much more of a compositional and experimental project. I decided that for the next one I would utilize what I really do best and that is play drums.”

Casson doesn’t want you to think that this is a big drum solo recording. Far from it. He considers himself a groove player first and foremost and wanted to make this one more about the feel of the music whereas the first CD was more about the soundscapes he created. There is still the ambient space and use of spoken word and foreign languages that carry over from the first CD, but with stronger grooves and vintage synthesizer sounds. “I became enamoured with the sounds of old Moog synthesizers, electric pianos and of the Theremin and began using them more. Also I was able to use more live musicians than the first CD, mostly due to the interest generated by that CD in the music community.”

Last spring Casson was invited to perform in the Twilight Jazz Series in St. Catharines at the Mahtay Café. “It was kind of terrifying as the music from the first CD was never intended to be performed live so I had to figure out what I could do, as well as compose a lot of new material for that concert.” Many of the songs written for that show formed the core of what is the new CD.

Another great inspiration for this music was a trip Casson and his family took to the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands. “It was such an amazing place to be. I recorded some sounds of the jungle and of the locals speaking their native language and they have found their way on to the new album”

There are 5 videos that have been produced for the new album.  Some of which were shot around Pelham.  “You are sure to recognize some places in those if you’re from around here.”

Dark Orchard “Blossom” is available on iTunes and at www.darkorchard.ca.  It can be purchased online or contact Jim at jcasson@hotmail.com to get one directly from him.


Quotes -

"Blossom is one of the most unique and enjoyable albums that I have listened to in years, you can never predict where it is going, but the musicianship and production quality and thought that has gone into this project is incredible and as such I recommend that you to get a copy of this for your album collection, I can guarantee you will be playing it for years to come." - Steve Sheppard, One World Music, London, U.K.

“Jim Casson and Dark Orchard take inspiration from all over but make it their own. In the process, they make some of the most compelling, world-influenced electronica I've heard.”
J Simpson, The Equal Ground, 02-20-2015

“It’s an amazing album… I was mesmerized... This album is just so ridiculously good.” - Bondo – host of “Anything Goes” CHSR 97.9FM Fredericton, NB

“One of the most interesting tracks to cross my path lately… ethereal, ambient, and unique aural landscape… Unusual, and strangely compelling.”
Bob Segarini, Award Winning Singer, Songwriter and Journalist

"Blossom is quite beautiful.” - Deborah Cartmer, Program Director, CFBU, St. Catharines, ON

“Dark Orchard creates a mix of down-tempo grooves, wild improvisation, found sound and imaginary conversations.” - John DiLiberto, Echoes – syndicated to 130 U.S. radio stations

“Sleek, cool and jazzy” - Laurie Brown, host of The Signal, CBC Radio 2

“Love your album!  I’ve been playing it pretty consistently for the past few weeks.” - William Humphrey, host of “Jazz Vibrations” CJAM 99.1FM Windsor, ON

"...instant dance party appeared here in the reviewers’ office by spinning the tune way too loud" Kai Noboku, Yeah I Know It Sucks U.K.

“…the music is expansive and interesting.  I like this album.” - Kiara Shibley, Music Coordinator, CJSF Radio 90.1 FM, Burnaby, B.C.

“Your record is really f**king great!” - Paul Reddick, award-winning songwriter
 
“Fantastic... you are a beautifully bent motherf*cker.”  - Terry Wilkins, Canadian bass icon

“OK, this is my new favourite long distance driving album.” - Don Baird, Humber College Music Professor
 

“Deliciously twisted. I like.” - Michael McDowell, Niagara drum legend

 “I love this ...has a bit of a Fellini thing to it” – in reference to the video for “Floreana” - Tom Bona, Award Winning Percussionist

“Totally mesmerizing.” - Grant Slater, pianist – Colm Wilkinson

“You are the only person I know who can legitimately write off a gorilla suit as a business expense” - David Harvey, Big Time Lawyer Guy

 

Airplay for Dark Orchard - Blossom

  • CBC Radio 2 - The Signal - National Brodacast
  • Echoes - syndicated to 130 Public Radio stations throughout the U.S.
  • CBC - Radio Canada - Les samedis du monde - National Broadcast
  • Jazz FM CJRT 91.1 Toronto, ON
  • One World Music, London, U.K.
  • WFKU New York City, Mystery Gothic Radio 12 A.D.
  • KRKQ Telluride, Colorado
  • CJSW 90.9FM Calgary, AB
  • CFBU 103.7FM, St. Catharines, ON
  • CITR 101.9 FM Vancouver, B.C.
  • CFMU 93.3 FM Hamilton, ON
  • CHSR 97.9 FM Fredericton, NB
  • CIUT 89.5 FM Toronto, ON
  • Radio Regent, Toronto, ON
  • CHMR 93.5, St. John's, NL
  • CJAM 99.1 FM, Windsor, ON
  • CJAI 92.1 FM, Stella, ON
  • CJSF 90.1 FM, Burnaby, B.C.
  • CFRC101.9 FM, Kingston, ON
  • CFBX 92.5 FM Kamloops, BC
  • Sunday Morning Soul, Mississauga, ON
  • KALX 90.7 FM UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California
  • CICK 93.9 FM, Smithers, BC

Press for Dark Orchard


 

Nominated for 

Instrumentalist of the Year 

at the 2012 Niagara Music Awards


Quotes -

"Full of excellent expressive music. Fabulous concept"- Renee Gelpi - programmer Galaxie Plus

"Complex, engaging, and compelling." - Jane Miller - actress

"You've pulled off a musical David Lynch here" - Christopher Darton - film maker

"Fascinating" - Bill King - Artistic Director Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival

"Inspirational" - Christopher Bessette - film maker

"That is SO creative" - Marty Edwards - internationally renown Kenny Rogers impersonator

"Loved it.  Trippy and cool" - Stephanie Jones - actress

"This album is a treat to the senses" - Angela Siracusa - singer/songwriter

"Felt like I was listening to Pink Floyd" - Jay Speziale - musician

"From the strange mind of Jim Casson" - Ron Hoover - guitarist

"A very cool sounding dealio you've created here Jim" - Mark Lalama - big time music guy

"Hitting farm implements has never sounded so good" - Dave McVetty - park ranger

"What the hell are you doing in the barn?" - Linda Allison - the Martha Stewart of agriculture


Local Drummer Transforms Sounds Of The Farm

BY SARAH MURRELL VOICE OF PELHAM, June 13, 2012

 

As a child Jim Casson loved the sound his hand made striking a large, empty metal tank on the family cherry farm in Fenwick.

 

It was a sound that stuck with him and one he vowed he would eventually record.

 

Eventually has arrived.

 

Casson's recently released CD Dark Orchard is a unique combination of orchestration, conversation, ambient grooves and those farm sounds from his childhood.

 

Casson explains the instrumental CD is an idea that has been running around in his head for years.

 

"I always wanted to experiment with different styles of music," he says. "The idea took shape over the last year or two."

 

Realizing that at some point if he hadn't pursued the idea it would never happen, Casson chose to produce the Dark Orchard CD.

 

Casson, who grew up in Fenwick and returned to the family farm several years ago, has been a professional drummer for the last 28 years. He has played on more than 50 CDs and performed across North America and Europe with such acts as Downchild Blues Band, Rita Chiarelli, Dave Rave, The Official Blues Brothers Revival, Amy Sky, Sue Foley, Bill King's Rockit 88 and hundreds more. He is a two time nominee for drummer of the year at the Maple Blues Awards, has had work nominated for Juno and Genie awards and winner of the Jazz Report Blues Band of the Year Award and Maple Blues Recording of the Year while with Downchild.

 

Despite his professional life as an award-winning percussionist, Casson says Dark Orchard is not a drum CD.

 

"It is more of a composer CD," he says, noting he even had to tell local producer Mark Lalama to tone down the sounds of the drums when they were mixing the CD.

 

"I wanted to make something unique and different," he says.

 

Technology has finally caught up with Casson's childhood dream of recording the sound of empty cherry tanks, to the point that he needn't bring a forklift to the studio, he says, so he's been able to record the sounds from the farm he loves.

 

"I'd have an idea, and run off to the barn," he says, noting the CD has been described as something he has forged, not written.

 

Along with the sounds from the family cherry farm, Casson has included spoken word, cutting snips, words and phrases from interviews he recorded with friends and people he has met. As a result, Dark Orchard is an instrumental CD with an ongoing dialogue, some of it in languages other than English, which allows each listener to take something different from the music.

 

Casson, who took up drums when he was allowed to stop playing piano at the age of six, explains this project was a result of listening to his "muse".

 

"That's important," he says of listening to that power, or goddess, which inspires an artist. "It can be stifled if you don't allow it to come out."

 

Casson credits his mother, the late artist Marilyn Casson, for teaching him to listen to his muse and supporting his artistic endeavours.

 

Casson's latest project can be heard or purchased at www.darkorchard. ca. Songs can also be purchased at itunes.

 

Casson says if you see him at a bandshell concert this summer he "may" have some CDs in his car for sale.


Maple Blues Magazine - June, 2012

By Christopher Darton

 

In the Studio: Drummer Jim Casson has been experimenting with "a unique combination of orchestration, conversation, ambient grooves and farm equipment." The drummer for such acts as The Rockit 88's, The Meteors and The Mighty Duck Blues Band amongst others including a number of years as drummer for the seminal Canadian blues act The Downchild Blues Band. With his new CD Dark Orchard Jim has really gone out on a musical limb this time around producing a musical "all in" approach...incorporating everything at his musical disposal. It's a hybrid piece ... marrying many genre's and many art forms ... it's a work of great creative vision and great courage. It's poetry. Aiding Jim in his creation on this funky journey into experimental waters are the talents of Christopher Plock, Dave Curry (The Mighty Duck Blues Band), Tim Johns (The Meteors), Johnny Max, Dave Rave, Heather Dale and many others. Dark Orchard can be found at www.darkorchard.ca or on iTunes.