Orcas Orcas

For those familiar with the work of Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka the Sight Below) and that of Benoît Pioulard, this collaboration doesn't hold many outright surprises. That said, both artists are among the most accomplished within in their genre, and, for the most part, this disc matches the quality of their respective catalogues. The pair's billowy cloudscape is plush and welcoming, even when the tone is darker, in the same way that an album like Bark Psychosis's Hex balances sultry mystery with shadowy atmospherics. Pioulard's plaintive vocals either intone bleary-eyed ballads that fit neatly into the post-shoegaze lineage or climb yearningly through a haze of electronics and diffusive guitar and piano, occasionally evoking a smoother version of Arthur Russell's seminal World of Echo. Arguably it's the presence of these vocal passages that give the album its shape. Even tracks like "Certain Abstractions," where the vocals serve a more textural role, or "Standard Error," which hinges upon a vocal sample from Tiny Vipers' Jesy Fortino, tend to feel more immersive than the strictly instrumental cuts. Orcas provides much to engage fans of both Irisarri and Pioulard, as well as lovers of languid, abstracted pop song craft. (Morr)