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Orphx – Pitch Black Mirror Review//Stream//Visual

It has been over two decades since Orphx’s inception, and they have methodically kept at it. The experimental electronic duo started off in the early ’90s releasing cassette albums, and came into prominent fame with the rise of the rhythmic noise scene in Europe. Their existence has been an ongoing struggle in crafting a unique sound, starting off with a fusion of techno and industrial, and sequentially moving deeper into the experimental realm, acquiring aspects of noise, electro, EBM and even post-punk. The discography of Oprhx speaks for itself, and after a series of albums, EPs and singles, the duo release their new full-length, Pitch Black Mirror.

The graphic element in the works of Orphx is extremely strong. Through their manipulation of synths and across genre experimentation, they are able to enhance the inherent aura of their music. For instance, the industrial element, through its mechanical tone, grants a darker perspective by transfiguring aspects of electronic music. It is not the only area that Orphx dwell on, with an attempt towards a more trippy, psychedelic domain always at play.


It is through the sound design mentality that Orphx can truly transform the sceneries of this album. Not contempt with raw sounds, they take on field recordings and layer voice samples, mutating the soundscapes into glorious sonic collages. The prominent use of vocals is an example of Orphx’s take on elements of their sound, allowing vocal lines to become the centre of their music, taking on a quality not unlike post-punk releases of the ’80s, but also reducing voice samples to background elements, enriching the structure of their tracks.

Not only an element of sound design, rhythmic noise allows an in-depth experimentation with the progression as well. Overall, the use of noise feels a bit tamed in Pitch Black Mirror, but its presence adds a sense of volatility, with the repetitive patterns and beats becoming more enticing, as they masterfully explore the scenery. The monotonous element that arises through the progression of techno and industrial is not the only quality that comes into view. Moving through heavy EBM grooves to techno repetition, industrial elements and post-punk exploration, they restructure the pace and character of the album through each individual track.


Even the progression itself is experimented and tampered with, as Orphx take to the structure of their tracks patiently. Slowly building from the ground up, they begin with few elements and keep adding on, layer upon layer. Synths appear only to disappear, rhythmic patterns are placed on the established foundation of the music, transforming the progression. It is an elegant approach, from minimalistic beginnings to maximalistic peaks.

The final arc of the record, with “All Rivers At Once,” “Walk Into The Broken Night” and “Pitch Black Mirror” reveal the complete plunge into the minimal and experimental realm. Tribal patterns arise, the synths take a turn for the darker, and the end result displays a truly captivating mystical quality. It is the ultimate way to end a record as adventurous as Pitch Black Mirror, as it fades away with an orphic touch.


Written By

Sound engineer, sonic manipulator, record hunter and writer/contributor for a variety of webzines.

Sentient 51423

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