Ora the Molecule: Human Safari (Mute) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, December 7th, 2021  

Ora the Molecule

Human Safari

Mute

Aug 19, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Ora the Molecule, the left-field synthwave moniker of Nora Schjelderup, crafts living worlds in her music. On her debut record, Human Safari, her songs pulse, ripple, and shift, tracing circles around Schjelderup’s elegant melodies and spoken word vocals. There’s a conscious magic to these worlds, with Schjelderup crafting songs that are at turns haunting and at others joyous. Amidst it all, she is the wide-eyed observer, absorbing the magic of her own creations.

Much of the album was created DIY, recording with only a computer, midi keyboard, and microphone. Schjelderup would write lyrics and melodies on the fly, whether in bed in the early morning, on a friend’s sofa, or on a bus. Yet that fractal approach to creation enlaces into beautifully layered art pop on Human Safari.

Schjelderup lets herself become another layer among many, her voice often acting as an instrument unto itself, as with the layers of a cappella harmonies that open the album on “The Ball.” Here Schjelderup punctuates slinking beats and pulsing synths with bursts of melody, running sparse on lyrics in favor of immaculate beat-driven instrumentals. Yet, that economy pays off as she also proves capable of surprising poignancy, such as with the reflections on greed found on “Sugar”—“I want sugar/I want sugar all the time/Shortcuts and quick fixes/I only want the highs.” Later, the chiming instrumental accents and upbeat handclaps of “You Need Air” conceal a dark story of houses burned and communities fractured in a relentless pursuit of power.

Schjelderup has described the album as “celebrating the spectacle” of humanity; capturing the beauty and horrors of human existence as if she’s on a titular “human safari.” In this sense, part of the joy of the album is the sense of wonder and mystical beauty Schjelderup and company draw from these tracks. Some are glittering and spacious, as with the airy vocals and swelling chords of “Pocket Universe.” Others twist and wind through more introspective territory, as with the dense, rippling house rhythms of “Shadow Twin.” Even the concept of death itself is less a tragic ending than a chance to conquer new horizons, a concept Schjelderup explores over top of thick, danceable synth lines on “Die to Be a Butterfly”

However, these darker moments do little to blunt the wide-eyed optimistic spirit behind the album. Schjelderup’s creations teem with verdant life, containing multitudes of layered melody and animated rhythms. Even on the album’s more sparse arrangements, Schjelderup creates an irresistible allure within the negative space, such as with the fluttering synth melodies and marching, insistent rhythm of “Silence.” Meanwhile, the driving pace of the record is owed to tracks like “Helicopter” or “Beat Beat Beat.” These efforts could work equally well as dance music or art pop, giving the whole record a lush tropical-tinged undertone.

Most of all, Human Safari is a celebration, both of the individual and the bonds we forge among ourselves. In Schjelderup’s hands, the world is a place of wonder and creativity, and each person is a creator, as explored on “Creator,” Schjelderup’s jubilant tribute to human joy and imagination. On Human Safari Schjelderup presents the world as seen through her eyes: imperfect, even frightening, but ultimately full of wondrous beauty, just waiting for you to explore and find your place within. (www.orathemolecule.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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