It wasn’t meant to be six years between albums for ORB. The Geelong-forged trio last graced us with a studio offering in the form of 2018’s characteristically heady The Space Between, before touring Europe and America back-to-back supporting King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard in 2019. But time rarely passes as expected, whether slowed by pandemics, side pursuits or other vagaries of daily life.

What’s important is that a fourth album is finally here, with enough byways and trapdoors to keep us well occupied indeed. This isn’t the exact same ORB that we knew from past glories, however. There are still the inevitable avalanches of fuzz, but also present now are mellower passages and a renewed focus on rhythm and space. It’s not a wholesale departure, but it’s distinctive enough to be reflected in the album title itself.

The source? Tailem Bend is a quiet town in South Australia whose name was evocative enough to catch the band’s collective eye on tour. Conjuring images for them of some lost prog act, the name reportedly derives from the Ngarrindjeri word “thelim,” referring to a sharp bend in the nearby Murray River. That made it especially suited to a record that packs many dramatic turns of its own – all without breaking its natural flow.

It also helps that Zak Olsen (guitar/bass/vocals), David Gravolin (guitar/bass) and Jamie Harmer (drums) have now been playing together for a decade and a half, dating back to their long run in their teenaged band The Frowning Clouds. That shared history absolutely informs Tailem Bend, which reunites the core trio with producer Tim Dunn (who helmed several Frowning Clouds albums) and a guest conga player in Frowning Clouds bandmate Nick vanBakel (now the leader of Bananagun). Half of the album also features The Murlocs’ Callum Shortal, who often augments ORB as a second guitarist live. And listen out for Jesse Williams (Leah Senior, Girlatones, Baby Blue) on piano and backing vocals from Emma Bailey and Ashley Goodall.

The opening title track reinforces the band’s willingness to carve out ample space in which to quest. Prefaced with a backwards loop and a fife stuck in one key – fruitfully pitch-shifted to fit in there and elsewhere on the album – the song soon drops into a familiar lurching riffage that connects the dots between heavy blues and psych and early metal. Saturated in vintage warmth and depth, it showcases ORB’s knack for achieving tuneful hypnosis amidst a dank roominess. Credit for both that rich sound and opening flourish are down to Dunn, who created the interludes separating each track while also encouraging more bleed than usual between the instruments.

“Karma Comes” then flits off to a lighter place, having begun its life as a demo for Olsen’s solo outlet Traffik Island before being repurposed for ORB. From there, Tailem Bend snakes through big, brash riffing as often as it does sun-dappled psych pop, with memorable rhythmic runs and funky wah licks along the way. Bleary hooks are in no shortage, especially as the closing “Commandment” slows right down to a sludgy crawl. After laying down the initial backing tracks in 2021 and 2022, ORB reconvened and finished the album early last year – half as a trio and half as a quartet with Shortal.

Kicking off the cobwebs with a packed monthlong residency at Shotkickers in Melbourne, the band easily got back to a place of comfort and command. It’s from there that they share with Tailem Bend, ahead of an Australian tour in July and a planned slate of overseas shows next year.

As signalled by the cover artwork from Parsnip’s Paris Richens – which depicts either a swan or a fish, depending on how you look at it – ORB have returned with an album that rewards taking it in from multiple angles. There’s plenty of the band we know and love, but there’s also enough of the new to prompt a healthy succession of double takes.

SOURCE: Official Bio