Album name: Cumulonimbus
Members of the band Orangegrass come from different music industry backgrounds. There's Clark, who works behind the scenes at The Wall; Xiao-Tang, a drummer who teaches drum lessons to students at a music instrument shop; and Xiao-Bei, whose "real" job is interior design and contract work. While they may not seem to have much in common, the trio gets together a couple times a week to practice their music, sharing a common passion with each other. I first noticed them after they released an EP called "Rainbow 4 AM" in 2006.
As an up-and-coming Taiwanese band, Orangegrass has only been around four years, but has had some unique performance opportunities, including being the warm-up band for Japan's te' band, The Appleseed Cast band from the U.S., and the Maximilian Hecker band during all of their Taipei concerts. These experiences helped Orangegrass learn and observe the different performing styles of other musicians, and discover what really suited their own band. The results can be heard on their recently-released debut album, "Cumulonimbus", which showcases an open-minded attitude and adventurous, experimental musical style.
Out of the album's 11 songs, two are from "Rainbow 4 AM", although these have been reworked and re-recorded. The entire album exudes Post-Rock and Experimental Rock flavors. Lead singer Clark's singing is backed by lots of guitar and drums with lots of bass in between. while his vocals are slightly off every now and then, in general his performance is above average. Because the drummer was used to playing heavy metal in his earlier days, a lot of the percussion on these release exudes an avant-garde, punk-metal feeling. Clark's own guitar-playing technique features a rising distortion that gives the music itself many more layers of sound and emotions, as the contrasting musical instruments add to this complexity. A very enjoyable contrast in styles is provided by the acoustic songs "Night Blindness" and "Hide-and-Seek", while another great song, "Tumbler Gold Fish", has a bit of a dreamy, Post-Rock feel to it.
For a Taiwanese band that has only been around for four years, we can clearly see improvements in its work from the release of "Rainbow 4AM" to "Cumulonimbus", as well as the band members' intention of creating something open and different. This new album is a great musical collection, and makes me look forward to whatever they have in store for us in the future--whether it be something even more aggressive-sounding or smoother to our ears.