Album: CS + Kreme – Orange

Photo by Louis Horne.

It is always a good omen when my friend, who rarely posts about new music that’s not from Poland or Eastern Europe, shares something on the timeline – you know it’s gonna be exceptional, not to be missed. As I was starting to reload my brain post Covid, the album began to pop up in various end of year lists, but I made a point not to read any of the reviews in order to keep a fresh perspective.

CS + Kreme are a duo from ‘’around Melbourne’’, Australia, and, as they put it in a Ransom Note interview – CS plays the straight man to Kreme’s wild card. The group’s name is a play on their initials, which sounds like an absurdist pastry to those not in the know. The two musicians have been active since the early 2000s, playing different bands and solo projects in various configurations, which would account for their wide sonic references.

If you just listen to Orange without any context, you would think this was a highly conceptual take on Post-dubstep by UK people who listened to Burial as teens and went to the first Hessle Audio gigs underage. The way the two musicians seamlessly pull from disparate influences in a way that is both analytical and playful reveals not only a high level of technical skill but also a deep historical understanding of the music while being liberated from genre constraints.

Orange is warm yet abstract, feels organised in an almost OCD way but is brimming with chaos. It sounds odd and elegant, vaguely dissonant but weirdly comforting. Skeletal “Bassline” is the exact opposite of what UKG fans might think of, CS+Kreme  building a haunting piece of contemporary improvisation where small field recordings that could be anything from twigs to office detritus frame delicate melodies the way you would find accompaniment in a free-jazz ensemble. The band is not afraid to use samples and looped choppy vocal loops either, creating gorgeous ambiences with less than a syllable on tracks like “Pink Mist”.

Just like their highly acclaimed Snoopy from 2020, which has the same intoxicating effect on me as Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill had back in the day, Orange is set to be another album that we will probably be talking about way past the end of year hype.


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