16 Nov 2019

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2 a.m. Orchestra - Single Review: Free

07 Nov 2019 // A review by Callum Wagstaff

2 a.m. Orchestra have been receiving accolades for their varied music for almost two decades and their live line-up changes just as frequently as the musical approach. At the heart of it all is singer, songwriter and composer David Kelley who started the project in the early hours of the night — hence the name.

Free is the latest offering from Kelley, a soft rock heart stirrer that washes over you like the third act reprise of a 90's teen movie. The song involves a playful bass line and a chorus that gets you singing along even before the end of the first listen. Acoustic and electric guitars are panned expansively and create a dream-like atmosphere. Some nice harmonies send the song out and invite a replay.

This incarnation's band line-up hasn't been announced as of writing this article, and we don't yet know how this single will relate to the larger body of work it belongs to. 2 a.m. Orchestra's cult following will be waiting with bated breath to discover what form this band will take in the months to come.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About 2 a.m. Orchestra

Based on an epidemic of insomnia-inflicting inspiration, 2 a.m. Orchestra was the name Kelley chose while working on some recordings in early 2000. Just prior to the release of what would be the first album (2 a.m. Orchestra, 2001), Kelley formed and prepped a band to play in support of the release. From that time, the live line-up has varied widely, from a 2-piece snare drum and guitar duo, to an over-achieving, instrument-swapping five-piece. Kelley did a number of U.S. tours with these various line-ups, and even a solo tour, braving the bitterest weeks of winter sleeping in a van, eating bologna, and trying not to doze off during the long drives. Such personnel fluctuations continued on up through the second full-length release, Impermanence (2005), which proved to be an apt, if not intentional title as the ever-changing live show became the band’s most noted characteristic.

At times, 2 a.m. Orchestra has been a Rock band, as was the 2008 line up—an LA-based four piece with a turbo-charged rhythm section, gritty vocals and surf-tone guitars. Other times, 2 a.m. Orchestra resembles something like an acoustic folk group, as was the case with the 2010 incarnation—an Auckland-based trio that catered to intimate crowds with the whispers of mandolin, ukulele, cello, violin, piano and slide guitar. One might label the music presented by this unique combination of instruments “chamber-pop,” with its captivating string arrangements—often lullabyesque and sometimes spooky. The group’s acoustic sets feature songs both prior releases as well as brand new material. One such performance was released under the radar, Live at Lopdell House Theatre, (recorded in Titirangi) free to fans via the 2 a.m. Orchestra FB page.

What's next? Yet another incarnation of the band emerges mid-2013 with the release of Working To Divide, the third full-length studio album which showcases the same characteristic ornate arrangements, but with new explosive rock textures. The new line up will feature Tim Gittins and Chris Dawson, two members who have teamed up regularly with Kelley since 2009, as well as Andy Smith on lead guitar. The single Heads & Tails, enjoyed nationwide radio support in New Zealand and was included on the Kiwi Hit Disc compilation. The animated music video received rave reviews and months of airplay on C4. The single Ain't Got The Fight, was also included on a Kiwi Hit Disc in 2013. The band will be doing both acoustic and rock shows in support, continuing their theme of rearranging songs and sounds, evolving and recreating, ensuring the audience has a new experience at each and every show.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for 2 a.m. Orchestra


2 a.m. Orchestra
Year: ????
Type: Album
Working To Divide
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Live At Lopdell House Theatre
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Fire Escape
Year: 2010
Type: EP
Year: 2005
Type: Album

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