The trend for recording orchestral albums continues apace, but to the immense credit of Poliça and Berlin-based chamber orchestra s t a r g a z e, led by conductor Andre de Ridder, this is a wholly original concept whose roots go back two years. The orchestral musicians are encouraged to improvise, and that reaps benefits with a series of arrangements that are living and breathing rather than purely genetic. If anything they work best in an intimate environment, especially as that means we can hear all the words Poliça vocalist Channy Leaneagh is singing – not always something you can say about their work as a band. Because of this ‘Fake Like’ and ‘How Is This Happening’ feel particularly up close and personal, while in contrast the twisted strings of ‘Speaking Of Ghost’ are authentic and disturbing. Things get pretty full on in ‘Cursed’, with a pummelling drum track, but final track ‘Music For The Long Emergency’ is where everything comes together beautifully, Leaneagh hitting top vocal form and the orchestra responding with powerfully wrought playing. This orchestra have plenty of experience with pop musicians – at the Proms they took part in the David Bowie tribute – but this is where they have hit their creative peak. A record of deep emotion that achieves what it set out to do – show how music is a ray of hope wherever you are. Top marks for that.
5 out of 5