What if one of Morcheeba’s Godfrey brothers played flamenco guitar? If one could blend their electronic trip hop inspired sound with lush and beautiful flamenco jazz what they may end up with would likely sound a good bit like James Labrosse. Labrosse’s Orange Nights combines traditional flamenco guitar with the layered synths of groups and producers like Morcheeba, Zero Seven, and the lighter side of Tricky. While I’m admittedly not the most knowledgeable about flamenco music or modern jazz, I know good music when I hear it. And, when that music has the distinct vibe of some of my favorite trip hop artists, I am a happy listener.
Standout tracks include “Find a Way” and “Orange Nights”. “Find a Way” is the first single from the album and truly embodies the blend of trip hop and flamenco jazz that attracts me to this album. While I still enjoy the tracks with a less trip hop influence, it’s this blend that I’m most drawn to. In “Find a Way”, the instrumentation employed has that same lounge music influence that set Portishead apart as a unique voice in trip hop. The drumming is fantastic and the guitar work on “Find a Way” is where the flamenco influence comes through most.
“Orange Night” has a similar vibe but stands out in a different way, as the unique vocals are undeniably intriguing. I could see the vocal line of the song being something that some people love and others hate, but it’s impossibly to hear the song and not recognize the way the vocals stand out to make the song something truly interesting.
The other track I really love here is the bonus track, an acoustic version of “Find a Way”. It has a different vibe, one that soothes and relaxes even moreso than the already smooth album.
While I’m sure fans of flamenco jazz fusion will all enjoy this album, fans of Portishead and Morcheeba are equally likely to hear this album and find something that tickles their fancy. The 90s and early 2000s trip hop fans are going to like this new wave of synth laden flamenco jazz being lead by artists like Labrosse. This is a beautiful backdrop for your next day at the beach, contemplative relaxation time at home, or romantic rendezvous.