New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Orions Belte Share Breezy “Jai Alai”

Norwegian instrumental tropical funk/pop outfit and JOVM mainstays Orions Belte —Øyind Blomstrøm (guitar), Chris Holm (bass) and Kim Åge Furuhaug (drums) — features members who have spent the bulk of their lives and professional careers as touring musicians. Naturally, they’ve been on the road — a lot. When Blomstrøm’s and Holm’s paths crossed for what seemed like the umpteenth time, they bonded over a mutual desire to create instrumental music, and they then decided to start a band together. The duo then recruited Holm’s Bergen scene pal Kim Åge Furuhaug to complete the band’s lineup. 

With the release of 2018’s Mint, the Norwegian trio quickly established a genre-defying, style-mashing sound that draws from a wide and eclectic array of sources including 70s Nigerian rock, postcards from the French Riviera, Formula One races at Monza and 1971’s “Fight of the Century” between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. 

2019’s Slim EP featured inventive reworkings of songs they love by artists they love, including Ghostface Killah‘s “Cherchez La Ghost,” Milton Nascimento‘s Tudo O Que Você Podia Ser”– and an original cut that pays homage to Norwegian beat group The Pussycats and the Mac Miller. 

Although the past handful of years have arguably been some of the most challenging years in recent memory for musicians and other creatives, the Norwegian trio managed to remain extremely busy: In 2020, they released a handful of singles including “Bean” and 600m per minute, an EP of experimental compositions that derived its title from an elevator in Tokyo that can transport 40 people at a time a maximum speed of 600 meters per minute. The EP found the trio pushing the boundaries of instrumental music as they possibly could. 

2021’s sophomore album Villa Amorini derived its name from a popular Bergen nightclub; the place in town where everything happened — and where you needed to be, to be a part of it. Originally opened in the 80s as a fine dining spot, the business gradually evolved into an extravagant nightclub, where you’d see artists and DJs in loud t-shirts and oversized sunglasses. The album saw the trio meshing elements of underground pop, psych and world music, while further cementing their reputation for their ability to pull in listeners of diverse genres and styles. And with that understanding in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the album’s material sets up a particular scene: the energy and vibe of a busy downtown sidewalk with intricately layered arrangements meant to draw you in and leave the listener wondering where it will lead. 

A few weeks after Villa Amorini‘s release, the trio followed up with a Lagniappe Session EP in collaboration with Aquarium Drunkard. That June saw the release of their first live album, Scenic Route, which featured recordings from their live-streamed outdoor shows from the previous year. 

Continuing their reputation for restless prolificacy, the Norwegian trio released a 3LP box set consisting of a solo album from each member — just like KISS did in 1978, they’ll gladly mention. Released last November through their longtime label home Jansen Records, each individual album in the box set displayed each member’s unique talents and tastes while still being a part of of the larger Orions Belte universe. 

  • Chris Holm’s solo self-titled album, released last November was a trippy, psych pop affair
  • Øyvind Blomstrøm’s solo self-titled album, which was released early last year, featured a funky mix of psych folk, psych funk and psych blues
  • Kim Åge Furuhaug solo self-titled album was also released last November and coincided with the release of the box set. Furuhaug’s solo album was a sonic left-turn from his work with Orions Belte: The album was a jazz album co-written and co-produced with Matias Tellez that features some of Norway’s finest jazz musicians, including Ole Morten Vågan (upright bass), Andreas Ulvo (piano, keys, organ) and Lars Horntveth (saxophone, clarinet, percussion, guitar).

The restlessly prolific Norwegian trio’s third full-length album Women is slated for an October 6, 2023 release through their longtime label home Jansen Records. Much like their previously released work, all the songwriting and production is done by the band members themselves, but with Women they’ve consciously put a lot of effort into making everything bigger and more powerful than before. String arrangements flow easily throughout the album’s material and is meant to describe a sensation that they describe as feeling “like releasing a million balloons at once while lying looking at the night sky, and dreaming of road trips on bumpy country roads through the Amazon in Brazil.”

Women will feature the previously released single “Silhouettes,” a track that manages to further cement their uncanny knack for trippy and irresistibly funky grooves but while arguably being the darkest song of their growing catalog: The song bounces back and forth between ethereal verses and crunchy, earthy guitar riffage paired with soaring hooks, paired with a supple bass line and a cacophonous string arrangement by Norwegian violinist and composer Ola Kvernberg. “Silhouettes” reveals a mischievous and adventurous group of musicians boldly pushing their sound and approach in new directions while still being rooted in their penchant for trippy grooves.

The album’s latest single is the incredibly breezy “Jai Alai.” Built around a percussive and driving drum pattern, glistening and twinkling 80s-like synths, a Steely Dan-like guitar solo paired with a dreamy Tropicalia-like coda with acoustic guitar sand shimmering mandolin paired with a bemusedly delivered lyric, “Jai Alai” is mischievously anachronistic song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1974 or maybe 1984 but while dripping in self-deprecating irony.

“‘Spent some time alone with you, a friend of mine told me to’ – everybody has gotten bad advice like this at some point,” the members of the Norwegian JOVM mainstay outfit say of the new single. “And sometimes things can go a lot faster than you thought, like Jai Alai – the world’s fastest sport. This track has a summery feel to it, percussive patterns, an in-your-face guitar solo and a dreamy ending with acoustic guitars and mandolins.”

Along with the single and album announcements, the band also announced that they’ll be embarking on yet another Stateside tour this fall that includes an October 16, 2023 stop at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery and an October 17, 2023 stop at Johnny Brenda‘s in Philly. Sadly, there isn’t a NYC date, but Johnny Brenda’s is one of my favorite venues in Philly. And you can load up on cheesesteaks while you’re there! Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Orions Belte Tour Dates:
10/4 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst*
10/5 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ Fremont Theatre*
10/6 – Ventura, CA @ Ventura Music Hall*
10/7 – Pomona, CA @ Glasshouse*
10/8 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom*
10/11 – Los Angeles, CA @ Vencie West
10/12 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
10/13 – Portland, OR @ Jack London Revue
10/14 – Bellingham, WA @ The Shakedown (Bellingham Exit)
10/15 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
10/16 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
10/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Jonny Brenda’s
10/18 – Boston, MA @ Deep Cuts
* w/ Psychedelic Porn Crumpets