One of the gifts of music is its undeniable fluidity—melodies and lyrics unbounded by context except that which we apply to it. Thus exploring a new artist or track is very much a “choose your own adventure” scenario, in which every added sonic element presents a new turn in the narrative, a new association to be made.
Listening to Orions Belte is no different. Trying to categorize this band’s work is not only futile but would be a disservice to the Norwegian trio. If anything, Orions Belte encourages the abstract— their music welcomes interpretation. For as they state about their sound on their website, “Is it blues? Is it world music? Is it underground pop? You can choose whichever you want, it’s not important for Orions Belte to be pigeonholed.”
And if their newest single “Conversations”, made in collaboration with Norwegian artist Shikoswe for their forthcoming album Villa Amorini, proves anything, it’s that Orions Belte can produce infectious tracks, no matter the genre.
From the initial note of the fluttering electric guitar, “Conversations” lays listeners adrift in a delectable, summery groove. Propelled by subtle percussion and cut through by what sounds almost like an electronically modified, Parisian accordion, Orions Belte conjures a laidback attitude that’s startling in its ability to simultaneously soothe and motivate.
Yet while the track’s infectious guitar hook lends itself more toward the pop genre, “Conversations” nonetheless incorporates the experimental elements Orions Belte have mastered and continually expanded upon throughout their primarily psychedelic funk discography.
But perhaps the most distinctive feature of this track is its inclusion of Shikoswe’s breathy vocals, which infuse the track with a bedroom pop-esque intimacy. And while this sound feels like a deviation from the gloomy experimentation Shikoswe delves into in her own album, Back in the Tall Grass, like Orions Belte she can transcend genres seamlessly. And when layered over Orions Belte’s experimental pop groove, Shikoswe’s entrancing vocals create a sonic discourse within “Conversations” that’s stunning to bear witness to.
Yet despite the title of the track, the lyrics seem to tell a tale of a couple reluctant to converse, tiptoeing around having to confess their true emotions. And this is a feeling that’s mutually shared, evident as Shikoswe joins in harmony with Orions Belte at the chorus. Together they singing about their qualms but feel disjointed in doing so.
We need to talk about
That one of these days I might do something
I don’t really want to do
So when I say
I feel fine tonight
You know me well enough to know it ain’t right
But despite their mutual yearning to talk, there doesn’t seem to be any actual communication occurring. Even after listeners find out that one conversant doesn’t feel like she used to, there is no concerted effort to console her or reach a resolution. Thus despite this small discovery, there still seems to be a need for further conversations to be had.
She turned around and tried to sneak out the backdoor
I hope I got through
And thus as the song ends we are left as Orions Belte and Shikoswe are—in a state of mystery, surrounded by loose ends. We can only hope that the message of the conversation reached its target.
Yet if there was anything that “got through” in this track, it’s a captivating feeling of a more tranquil, bygone era. Ultimately, “Conversations” lays the groundwork for a journey into a summery daydream—one that’s constructed beautifully by Shikoswe’s ethereal vocals and Orions Belte’s experimental grooves. And by creating a sound that’s unconfined by boundaries of genre and ever-evolving, this track inspires listeners to adopt the same qualities— to feel free to be adrift on their own adventures.