Since forming in Halifax, UK over a decade ago, while their members were still in their teens, JOVM mainstays The Orielles — siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle (guitar, vocals) — have released three critically applauded albums, 2017’s Silver Dollar Moment, 2020’s Disco Volador and last year’s La Vita Olistica, which has seen the band move from lo-fi DIY indie rock to Stereolab and A Certain Ratio-inspired avant pop.
When all of the band’s live dates to promote their sophomore album were scrapped as a result of the pandemic, the JOVM mainstays spent 2020 creating La Vita Olistica, a high-concept art film written and directed by the Hand-Halford sisters, which they toured in cinemas during the following year. This was the beginning of a series of creative breakthroughs that would result in Tableau, the band’s forthcoming album.
One of those breakthroughs came about when the band was booked to host a monthly show on Soho Radio. Those broadcasts quickly became impromptu research and development sessions for the ideas that would feed into the album. “Doing that monthly meant we had a reason to meet up and bring two hours of music between us which we’d play, discuss, hold physically and share,” the band’s Henry Carlyle says in press notes. “We were listening to much more contemporary music than before,” Esmé Dee Hand-Halford adds.
Another breakthrough came while remixing another band’s track in a studio in Goyt, UK. This wound up becoming what the band dubbed the Goyt method, a central creative process behind the forthcoming album. “To Goyt it” Sidonie B. Hand-Halford explains, “that’s getting all these pieces and rearranging them. We had vocal melodies and ideas that we’d then run through and sample, and play them on sample pads. We were being editors, really.”
The JOVM mainstays also completely revamped their long-held creative process: Where they had previously only gone into the studio once songs had been tightly crafted at the demo stage, the band began to consider new practices in line with the contemporary sound they were aspiring to craft. No demos, and a lot of improvisation. They also used experimental 1960s-era tape looping and Autotunes. The album also sees them drawing from teh likes of Burial and Sonic Youth. And for the first time, no outside producer — but the band collaborated with friend and producer Joel Anthony Patchett.
Mostly recorded during last summer while the band was holed away in Eastbourne, UK, the album not only sees the band quickly adopting contemporary production, but concepts from the art world and minimalism, as well. Sidonie B. Hand-Halford researched the graphic scoring method of Pulitzer Prize-nominated trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith. They also used Oblique Strategies, the playing cards designed to aide creativity created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in the early 1970s. “We’d been speaking about wanting to use them for ages, and then we found a set of cards at the studio in Eastbourne,” explains Sidonie, “before each song, we’d pick out a card and that would be our motif for playing that take.”
Slated for an October 7, 2022 release through Heavenly Recordings, Tableau is a double album that reportedly rewards serious immersion, because it’s both complex and diverse. And while the album will likely challenge preconceptions, this is something that the band suggests they’ve been doing throughout their career anyway. “All through our whole career we’ve had to prove ourselves so, so much” Carlyle says. “You can’t disconnect the age and the gender thing either” Esmé Dee Hand-Halford says. “People belittle your age because they see women in the band. Whereas lad bands, if they’re eighteen it’s apparently exactly what people want to see.” Being from a small town in West Yorkshire may have added to that also, but Sidonie counters that “being from Halifax has also been a blessing, it’s kept our egos in check.”
Of course along with that, the album is also the product the product of the unique telepathy between three singular musicians that have grown in symbiosis for over a decade — and the three of them vibing and trading ideas together in a room. “As creators, for the fact we’ve produced it ourselves, it feels like a starting point” Esmé Dee Hand-Halford suggests, “even though everything that’s going previously has counted, this now feels like Ground Zero.” For the future, now, it’s all gates open.
Clocking in at 7:53, Tableau‘s expansive first single “BEAM/S” is a shapeshifting and cinematic bit of dream pop-meets-avant-garde jazz/pop featuring twinkling and fluttering synths, a jangling and chugging guitars, ethereal vocals and a soaring string arrangement. Sonically, the song evokes continuous and unending change and uncertainty — while continuing the band’s genre-bending approach with the song revealing nods to dream pop, slowcore, avant-garde pop and even Afrobeat.
“This is a song that has travelled, grown and adapted with us through all of the seasons,” Esmé Dee Hand-Halford explains. “This is why the lyrics kind of reflect that, the song reflects the changing of conditions. The warping of time, memories and relationships that you foster along the way. The original track was jammed at practice, Henry would bring his recording gear and it came about in quite an off the cuff way. I can’t remember how we really began jamming that. We further developed it whilst jamming at Eve Studios. We added distortion pedals and made it really big, but then going into the studio months later, maybe a year or more, we pared it back slightly. The majority of the song is just us in a room, a big room at that, which did the track a lot of justice. We wrote a visual score inspired by Wadada Leo Smith for this one, and then in the later half you hear the group percussion which is the final fallout of the song, and has nods to Afrobeat, where the majority of the song is taking this slowcore, emo feel to it. The track was originally titled ‘Brian Emo.’
Co-directed by the band and Mackenzie AJ Thompson, the accompanying video for “BEAM/S” is a surreal fever dream, chock-filed with some stunningly cinematic imagery.