[2012059] The Picture Box Orchestra

[2012059] The Picture Box Orchestra

The Picture Box Orchestra @ Idolize

7:00pm, Tue 28 Feb 2012

The Picture Box Orchestra? Never heard of them. “Led by violinist Alies Sluiter“? Never heard of her, either.

So why was I here, then?

As always, it’s the précis that sucked me in: “combines Indian Classical techniques with Jazz, Hip-Hop and Western Classical influences,” it promised. Hey, I like those things, and it seems like an intriguing mix.

There’s a core of four players in the Picture Box Orchestra this evening – Sluiter on violin, Tim Blake on cello, Jay Dabgar on tabla, with vocals provided by a chap I’m completely unable to find a name for – which is a massive shame, because his singing (Qawwali?) was mesmerising. This contrasting core – percussion and vocals from the east, strings from the classical west – were accompanied on many tracks by keyboards, drums, and bass; Libby O’Donovan even joined them for their third track, Mr Fox, which was a wonderful mish-mash of rhythms and styles.

It’s worth mentioning that too much tabla usually annoys the hell out of me – not tonight, however. The Picture Box Orchestra trotted out a stunning mix of classical tropes, eastern vocals & percussion, and pop hooks, with all elements given their own chance to shine… when not part of some glorious master-plan, songs concocted out of a mixture of these elements that seem familiar and alien all at once.

So – Alies Sluiter? She sure knows how to build a tune. The Picture Box Orchestra? Well worth the effort. Intoxicating stuff.

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