Album Review by Black Grooves

When you have a band name that combines Orca, “the sophisticated, mysterious, intelligent killer whale,” with Stratum, a way of categorizing or layering members of a group—one would expect a certain level of sonic diversity. This is certainly the case with Orcastratum’s eponymous debut album, recorded live at Dean St. Studios in Soho, London. Blending jazz, blues, classical, African, and “UK left field” musical traditions, the London-based group aims to transcend the predictive qualities of mainstream music. Led by producer and songwriter Glen Scott on keyboards, other members of the group include Ralph Salmins on percussion, Neville Malcolm on acoustic bass, and Eric Appapoulay on electric and acoustic guitars.

The album opens with “Spirit of the Skog.” After a brief intro hinting perhaps at fog shrouded forests, the track switches to an up tempo jazz tune featuring master Senegalese musician Solo Cissokho, who artfully intertwines kora melodies and vocals. “Unexpected Relations” is true to it’s word, contrasting classical idioms on the piano against a driving percussion rhythm and ethereal vocal overdubs. Swedish vocalist BERG is the featured guest on “Hallelujah Ironically,” along with Binker Golding, who adds to the contrasting sections with an extended sax solo. Despite its title, “Wizdoom” is an upbeat, piano-centric contemporary jazz tune with lush flourishes and perhaps only a hint of foreboding.

For many, the highlight of the album will be “No Need,” featuring guitarist Eric Bibb and gospel singer Shaneeka Simon. On the intro, Bibb’s lightly plucked guitar ostinato seems to mimic the kora from the opening track. As the song builds, Bibb joins Simon on vocals and the tone becomes dark and urgent, the accompaniment more ominous. Singing “no need for the fussing and fighting my friend,” the musicians bring the song to a powerful climax.

Though only five tracks, Orcastratum is an impactful debut that only hints at the group’s complexities, but certainly fulfills Scott’s “age old quest to inspire myself and others without borders.”

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

CD-reviews buiten BeNeLux

You as a versatile virtuoso surrounded by artists who do their thing at the same level? It makes for masterpieces anyway. That is already apparent from that first song, Spirit of the Skog. Warm piano sounds take you away to completely different places. It is not only the red thread through this song. It is also a feeling that continues to haunt us through the complete EP. And that is to a large extent the merit of a cross-pollination between so many talented musicians and vocalists within this unique band. Jazz, Soul and dreamy music styles are jumbled and that creates a beautiful whole.

Because indeed the input of special vocalists like BERG during the miraculous Hallelujah Irronically or No Need where the very soft vocal decoration, backed up by an equally stunning soundboard, gives you a head in the throat. In addition to an added value, it is actually the main theme throughout this album. There is no lesser song on it, and there is no specific statement. With this kind of music, that is not necessary. Let us just dream away the album.

We can therefore decide:

Sound walls are therefore not broken down on this EP. Also, the urge to experiment does not cause the average jazz enthusiast to frown. The typical Jazz roads are thus further scanned. But just by descending an intense warmth, through narcotic sax, intoxicating piano, guitar and percussion sounds, you feel and kind of happiness descending on you, which you leave with a broad smile. Supported by that equally vocal decoration, Orcastratum delivers the perfect Jazz record, with a nod to Soul - especially through that vocal input - in which sensitive strings are constantly touched. From start to bitter end. All this within a rather simple framework, which just because of that pierces right through that heart. -Multinational chamber sauce

Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Glen Scott, with his multinational ensemble Orcastratum, releases this self-titled live-recorded debut album on the Swedish Compunctio label. Orcastratum is in addition to Glen Scott at the piano, guitarist Eric Appapoulay who, among other things, played with Neneh Cherry and at the base we find Neville Malcolm heard with Gregory Porter. From the beginning, Orcastratum is rhythmically driven by the percussionist Ralph Salmin, who has been nominated for the best drummer at the British Jazz Awards and played with everything from BBC Big Band via Björk to Bob Dylan.
But at Orcastratum we also find the Eric Bibb, Grammy-nominated this year, giving a bluesy spice on the track where Shaneeka Simon is also spreading joy with his song. The Swedish vocalist Berg unites his wordless song with the jazzy debuts of the saxophonist Binker Goulding. Solo Cissokho in front of classically beautiful griot singing playing on his choir. Orcastratum is briefly a recording of a nice and magical moment in Dean St Studios in Soho, London.

Reviewed by: Lennarrrt Olausson



The Swedish label Compunctio now releases the Orcastratum plate. This record was created by songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Glen Scott. The record is a warm and emotional release that musically walks between jazz, blues, soul world music and some classic tongues. For his help, Scott has included Eric Bibb (song / guitar), Solo Cissoko (song / choir) and Binker Golding (saxophone). It is interesting to see how Scott varies the music between different genres with the help of his fellow musicians. The result is often fine.  Mattias Gustavsson MATTIAS GUSTAVSSON 20 JUN 2018

Jazz Weekly Creative Music and other forms of Avant Garde

The quartet of Glenn Scott/p, Neville Malcolm/b, Ralph Salmins/dr and Eric Appapoulay/g deliver a handful of creative and flexible originals. Blues guitarist Eric Bibb brings in some folksy pickings that build up to a dramatic cataclysm on “No Need” while the foursome mix guitar tunings with rustling piano and percussion on the busy “Unexpected Relations.” Saxist Binker Goulding brings some crying tones to the modal “Hallelujah Ironically” and the team gallops to the finish line on the driving “Wizdoom.” Moods that both meander and move.


Orcastratum (Compunctio), UK, March 16, 2018 

1. Spirit Of The Skog (06:41) - 2. Unexpected Relations (03:35) - 3. Hallelujah Ironically (05:19) - 4. Wizdoom (04:36) - 5. No Need (08:02) 

Ralph Salmins (drums, percussion); Neville Malcolm (bass); Eric Appapoulay (electric and acoustic guitar); Glen Scott (piano, keyboards and production) + Guests: Eric Bibb (vocals, guitar); Solo Cissokho (singing, kora); Binker Golding (saxophone); Shaneeka Simon (vocals); Berg (singing). Recorded and filmed live at the Dean St. Soho studios in London in January 2016. 

In the seventh art, music is often the accompanist of the film. For Orcastratum, it's the opposite, music generates images. The audio recording of this album was filmed live at the Dean St. Soho studios in London in January 2016, the black and white aesthetic rendering respect of the tradition of arthouse cinema. The world of jazz has often used black and white, portraits of the greatest jazzmen (Miles Davis, John Coltrane ...) testify. Today, the two colors of Yin and Yang are also there to remind the dress of the orca (Orcinus orca), animal that inspired Glen Scott. 

Etymologically, Orcastratummeans the members of the category of orcs. Dr. Lori Marino, a specialist in cetacean neuroscience, presents him as an animal endowed with a shared sense of self, thanks to a more developed paralimbic brain area than that of the human brain. Neurology and ketology should help us decode the message conveyed by the British composer. For most of our contemporaries, orcs are animals present in dolphinaria, obedient to the finger and the eye or rather to the ultrasonic whistle of their healers / trainers. But Gabriela Cowperthwaite's "Blackfish" report, released in 2014, brings another knowledge of this animal. This film is strongly inspired by the real story of the orc Tilikum, responsible for the deaths of three people. This cetacean, captured in 1983, killed her trainer on February 24, 2010 during a show. This accident mobilized public opinion and the scientific community who came to the conclusion that captive conditions make cetaceans crazy and uncontrollable. In the wild, these animals live in a hierarchical group, while in the basins, they are often alone or in very small groups. The documentary asks the question: how can an orca swimming ten thousand kilometers in the ocean in forty two days, live in a basin sixty meters long? these animals live in a hierarchical group, whereas in the basins, they are often alone or in very small groups. The documentary asks the question: how can an orca swimming ten thousand kilometers in the ocean in forty two days, live in a basin sixty meters long? these animals live in a hierarchical group, whereas in the basins, they are often alone or in very small groups. The documentary asks the question: how can an orca swimming ten thousand kilometers in the ocean in forty two days, live in a basin sixty meters long?

These exciting discoveries could make you forget the musical subject of the day. On the contrary, the need for space and freedom of cetaceans is identical to the feeling felt by the composer: "The stimulus came from a personal need to create a music that turns away from the conventions of today's mainstream music. and its sometimes too predictable character.Expression of this art form is an essential part of my daily balance and serves me as a sort of therapy.With Orcastratum, I continue the quest for my soul, hoping to get myself, as well as to others, an unlimited inspiration ". 

In the company of the musicians of the album, Glen Scott records the CD live, as on the open sea for orcas. No Needreveals the construction of the album: at first, Eric Appapoulay installs a planing atmosphere by rubbing the strings on his guitar, then Ralph Salmins, cymbals, increases the sound tension of the piece. They are then joined by Glen's subtle riffs on the piano. This track of more than eight minutes also presents calm phases where Eric Bibb and Shaneeka Simon chant their warm voices "No Need". Yes ! the proof is made, the music is born in complete freedom, without premeditation nor preliminary writing, only by being carried away by the melodic wave. All the songs in the album are made with a similar fluidity. Glen Scott even speaks of a philosophy of Orcastratum that is to change musicians for each album so as not to fall into the pitfall of repetition.

As for orcas who can not live alone and locked in small pools, Glen Scott needs to be free and surrounded by musicians to create his music. Listening to this album allows you to go further by encouraging the listener to ask the question: imbued with freedom and surrounded by close friends, our existence is not it more beautiful? 

[Chronicle of Jean-Constantin Colletto ]