They say first impressions count but if you were to believe that Ottawa’s Orienteers were another group hanging on to the coattails of the folk revival, you would be sadly mistaken. Their self-titled debut offers so many curveballs but it does take a while before their versatility becomes evident.
Music rarely gets gentler than ‘Walking Song’; against a country guitar backdrop, the whispered vocals create a small but resolutely tuneful sound. Furthermore, there’s a Simon and Garfunkel-like ambience to ‘May-Queen Girl’ and ‘I Tried To Picture Us’.
All well and good these moments are, Orienteers trul excel when they reach beyond the folk and country boundaries. They are at their most captivating for ‘A Hymn For The Old Soul’ and ‘Little Words’ where they experiment with otherwordly effects; creating a magical scene similar to Mercury Rev. ‘Mastodon’ is a rather more heavy-handed detour into shoegaze territory but the final track makes the best use of rustic guitars and rippling piano to create some beautifully, dream-like ambient rock.
Orienteers seem quite unassuming at first but once you discover there’s more to them than folk and country influences, they become quite an exciting prospect. If they could explore their experimental side further still, who knows what they will achieve.
Mercury Rev, Renfro, Simon And Garfunkel