Orfeas is the eighth solo-album by Judge Smith
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, and his third “songstory” after Curly’s Airships (2000) and The Climber (2010)
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. Orfeas is notable because of the use of speech music, where a musical instrument plays along with spoken words at the same pitch of each syllable. The album is also notable because of the variety of musical styles it incorporates, ranging from a string sextet, trance music, acoustic guitar music, and death metal. Finally
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, the music by the George Orfeas Band is notable because the electric guitar (by John Ellis who plays George Orfeas) and the saxophones (by David Jackson who plays Maxwell Blow) play identical melodic lines simultaneously.
The story of Orfeas is loosely based on the myth of Orpheus. In three acts Orfeas tells the story of the talented and successful guitar player George Orfeas, who is fed up with his playing and his success, but then suddenly loses his guitar he calls Furry Dice. Subsequently he nearly dies in a car crash in Cuilfail Tunnel. After meeting his muse Eurydice somewhere between life and death he regains his humility and is allowed to return to the land of the living, on the condition that he does not look back. After his return, the George Orfeas Band does not play any of the old songs anymore. Seduced to play his old hits once again, however, his career comes to an end.
The recordings of the George Orfeas Band were largely done in Nogaredo in Italy. Ricardo Odriozola and Ben Nation recorded the string sextet sessions in Norway. Trance music producer Andy Haldane contributed to the trance parts. David Minnick was the arranger, producer and co-performer of the parts with speech music. The mysterious band Black Path recorded their death metal parts. Lastly, in 2010 the solos by John Ellis and David Jackson were recorded.
A photography session was done in January 2011 to portray George Orfeas, Eurydice and other players in the CD booklet.
Dom Lawson of Prog Magazine in January 2012 called Orfeas “weird, witty and resolutely ecccentric”. Malcolm Dome of Claasic Rock Magazine wrote in June 2011 that Smith told the story of Orpheus “with a resonant sympathy yet also a darkly devious humour”. Babyblaue Seiten in April 2012 called Orfeas “a wonderfully entertaining album”. In May 2012 the Rocktologist wrote: “This isn’t really music as we know it, but if you like different types of art, this is bound to appeal to you” (7 out of 10). And Shakefire, in April 2012 called the album “something insanely good” (rating 4.05 out of 4).
All songs written by Judge Smith.
Act One – Hamartia
Act Two – Anagnorisis
Act Three – Peripeteia
as The George Orfeas Band
as the bard Anachronistes
as the band in Hell & Bacchus
the interview ensemble
as George Orfeas