“When the heroes die, people build their tombs.
When the heroes die, monuments are constructed.
When the heroes live, a land becomes a nation.”
After an extended silence, Milan-based J Orphic has released the new album, Villa Ardita, on the German Castellum Stoufenburc imprint. The pairing couldn’t be better, as Castellum Stoufenburc has been showcasing quite a few releases with a heavy accent on the neoclassical sound combined with martial undertones and occasional EDM elements. J Orphic falls perfectly into this stylish direction, showing that the time between releases has resulted in a powerful collection of tracks.
From the opening track, “Mystic Choice”, we are greeted with a strong use of choral voices that are consistently found throughout the album. J Orphic has been noted in the past for being influenced by “nature, Christian religion and fog”, and the choir voicing definitely speaks to the religious sound they add to the tracks. On “Teatro Nazionale”, they dominate the track, while on “A Land becomes a Nation”, they are used with more restraint. Both tracks take on an air of a national anthem, heralding a return to greatness — or in the case of the latter composition, the initial birth of such an era.
Villa Ardita also starts off with a harder overall feel, with heavy percussion, coming across more as EBM-influenced rather than the typical martial flair. Distorted vocals combine with various speech samples and noise elements, launching the album into a strong opening assault. Eventually, J Orphic leads us into more of a neoclassical arena, as Lucija Hrvat adds additional vocals set against plucked strings and resounding horns. The album moves at a slower pace about midway through, while still maintaining a good amount of tension and dark atmosphere.
Some tracks seem ritualistic, while others sound operatic, but all are certainly martial in nature. J Orphic manages to pull together varying aspects of this genre with skill and precision. There are some interesting combinations of spoken word samples utilized, including German actor Helmut Qualtinger reciting passages from Mein Kampf, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gualle and William S. Burroughs. J Orphic’s Marco de Marco states that the band merely loves history, and uses these different samples not so much as a direct political statement, but rather as another instrument in their repertoire. There are some obvious reasons for some of the samples while others are more obscure.
Villa Ardita is a glorious return for J Orphic, giving the listener complex and stunning compositions whilst holding true to Marcos’ ambient, experimental and martial roots.
01) Mystic Choice
02) We are in the Desert Alone
03) Rebel Advance
04) Aurora Ventennale
05) Pripravite put Gospodinu
06) After the Victorious Battle
07) Teatro Nazionale
08) A Land becomes a Nation
09) Nuovo Congresso
10) Mandatory Law