NEED a palate freshener?
SORBET is the new guising and musical project of Irish producer Chris W Ryan, who can enumerate on his CV the scouring rock of Just Mustard; the dreamier, almost House of Love stylings of NewDad, and the Fugazi-meets-jazz melding of his own Robocobra Quartet. Chris is clearly a man of eclectic taste and vision, a musical restlessness – a need to explore.
And explore he does with SORBET, with which he seeks the liminal places where classical meets pop meets electronic meets more. His first unveiling is with us today, a single, “I Heard His Scythe”, featuring Galway folkie Maija Sofia. SORBET’s first album is on the way, too.
With its genesis in producer-led greats of the past, and citing Eno’s Another Green World as an example, Chris set to work once he conceived of the SORBET project.
“I love the way you can hear the playful interaction between friends on an album like that — there are none of the constraints or rules that you might have when you’re trying to represent the sound of a live band or artist,” he says.
“It’s all the same to me: producing beats, writing lyrics, drawing up sheet music for classical musicians, EQing snare drums – I’m just using everything I can to create something exciting to listen to.”
So he called on friends and associates to flesh out the project and let it spiral out freely in a multitude of directions; including not just Maija, but Mark McCambridge, of the quietly and brilliantly pastoral Arborist, and Mícheál Keating, of West Limerick’s Bleeding Heart Pigeons – as well as musicians brought in from the jazz and classical worlds.
“There are so many great musicians on this record, some of which I’ve been friends with years and others that I’ve been admiring for a while and itching to work with like jazz saxophonist Lara Jones and upright bass player Jack Kelly,” Chris comments.
Lara and Jack line up alongside Maija on “I Heard His Scythe”, which you can hear below; theatrical, declamatory, looking death in the eye (socket) and grinning with optimistic nihilism. Double bass lends heft and warmth, electronica chills with cold, singing tonality; our Chris-as-narrator insouciant in the face of it all in the way Baxter Dury is on “Miami”, sans the cool disco funk.
Maija carries that dark lyrical refrain: “I heard his scythe whoosh past my ear / It gets a little louder every year”.
And there’s the concept sitting behind SORBET’s forthcoming album, This Was Paradise: the between-place of our 21st-century life.
“We’re stuck between Paradise and Hell, always swinging between the two as a result of how we behave towards each other and our planet. For example, climate change is sliding us towards an almost literal Hell,” says Chris.
The album’s littered with references to Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost”, which opens with Adam being expelled from the Garden of Eden for “Man’s first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree.”
SORBET’s “I Heard His Scythe”, feat. Maija Sofia is available on all digital streaming platforms today, with the album, This Was Paradise, to follow on Bureau B soon.