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Orr is a guitar-based collaboration between Bruce Gilbert, Robert Hampson (of Main) and Paul Kendall, none of whom are scared of making a racket when it suits.

A short track called Minute Hold gets the album underway, alternating between chugging rotary growling and squalls of ear-splitting feedback, neither approach being particularly inspired nor impressive. Thankfully, things quickly pick up; Source II proves that subtlety can be more effective than sheer sonic attack. Quad is almost psychedelic in its disorientating mesh of guitars—some abrasive, some decorative—while Achorist introduces a hard-hitting metallic rhythm, which may also derive from a guitar.

There is an impressive amount of variety throughout, even within the individual tracks that are constantly evolving, combining sometimes-disparate elements to great effect. Among the best pieces is Us, which rises from an ambient drift to incorporate two or three separate melodies. It sounds like a rock song in the afterlife.

Although there are no real tunes as such, Orr is a tightly constructed affair that is based on solid structures and lacking the sort of unfocussed moments that are the undoing of many experimental records. Likewise, the sound is clean and free of obstructive, unnecessary distortion. In short, Orr is not 'metal machine music' although, in common with most other Gilbert-related projects, this is hardly easy listening by any stretch of the imagination.

Strictly speaking, this can probably be labelled a guitar album, although the way the pieces are constructed is similar to much electronic music. The imaginative and accomplished guitar abuse on Orr would doubtless reduce MTV Unplugged's audience to tears!

Graeme Larmour (February, 2001)

Cover artwork