When Covid-19 hit and Andrew Orkin – a Johannesburg-born, Brooklyn-based film and TV composer – had his Netflix series deal on hold, he decided to tap into the global community of fellow musicians and channel his work towards something else entirely.
That something being Gift of the Givers. The largest disaster response NGO in Africa who, among so many other organisations, have been hard-pressed to support those in need in the time of a pandemic.
Cirrus, a fleeting and poignant 5-track EP, was recorded remotely between New York, South Africa, Ukraine, and Berlin. Composed by Orkin and brought to life by Kevin Kuh (violin), Molly Fletcher (violin), Jean-Louise Parker (viola), Kristine Kruta (cello), Josh Plotner (woodwids and reeds), Vuyo Sotashe (vocals), and Fima Chuphakin (piano). It was mixed and mastered by Satoshi Noguchi. They count themselves among Broadway musicians in New York, touring musicians in Berlin and jazz performers from South Africa and Ukraine.
The result is a neo-classical gem: a careful combination of classic orchestral sound and modernised synth creeping through the cracks. Opener “One for the Faint of Heart” kicks things off with swelling and retracting strings which slowly gives way to an unanticipated electro-beat sample. The next few tracks are, simply put, magnificently pretty: breathy vocals make a rare appearance in “Cradle Song”, while “Prelude for Fima” charts a chiming piano trajectory, charming as an autumn stroll.
Leaning towards the experimental side comes only really at the end, as “Works and Days” navigates a darker, warping synth line before an orchestral swell brings it back around. And then “Cirrus” wraps things up with pulsing electro-lines – the sort which hark to an August Rush-esque textural experimentalism.
Here’s a gloriously off-beat EP with its heart and sights set in all the right places.
For as little as $20, Gift of the Givers can feed a family for a month. Please take this into account when donating. Also consider sharing this work with your personal networks to raise the most funds possible.