Time: July 2013
Media: Digital Download
Info: The cello plays multiple roles in these tracks, from
percussion to bass to contralto, layered together to form
impossible ensembles through my use of looping,
pitchshifting, and reverberation. Astoria is a confluence
of lullabies, hymns, and chamber symphonies into a
coherent and satisfying whole.
Artist site: http://15people.net/
PDF Press Release: Download
01. Moments of Quiet Technicolor
03. Marzo 04. Autumn 05. Astoria 06. The Orrery 07. Sleep 08. Waveguide 09. Bubbaly 10. Gwageus 11. Chimes at Midnight 12. Palimpsests
VIDEO | Palimpsests
REVIEWS | Astoria
It’s possible that within the acoustic instrument kingdom, the cello is uniquely suited to ambient music. While it can
be played with fiery fervor, its sad and throaty tone really comes alive when played with patience, long draws
of the bow coaxing out beautifully mournful sighs that drill into a listener’s heart. These sighs translate perfectly
to an ambient pad structure; layer them and add touches of electronic texture and you’ve got Astoria, the new
release from The OO-Ray. Ted Laderas began the pieces here as improvisations on the cello, then went back
and fleshed them out with looping, pitch-shifting and distortion. The pieces range from ambient drifts like the
raspy “Autumn” and the softer-edged drones of “Gwageus” to neo-classical infusions like “Palimpsest.”
Throughout, the pieces are thoughtful and emotionally dense. The somber tones of “Andalusia” contrast with
the somewhat familiar gypsy-dance melody that Laderas slowly metes out.”Waveguide” puts me in immediate
mind of Gorecki with its heart-wrenching cello line and minimalist approach. Laderas accents this lazy drift with
resonating, hard-struck chords. “Marzo” stands out for its comparatively upbeat tone, Laderas flicking his
strings in a pizzicato percussion. A clockwork beat rounds out the sound. The draw here, as with most electro-
acoustic ambient, is how well the too-human organics mesh with the electronics, the rough against the smooth.
Laderas pulls it all off nicely, creating sound-sketches of feelings that we want to look deeply into, and which
we understand at a gut level.
It takes no time at all for the listener to be drawn into Astoria’s world when the cello’s deep groan appears
seconds into “Moments of Quiet Technicolor,” a dirge-like drone whose strings are propelled by the death knell of
a recurring pluck. In “Marzo,” Laderas builds up so many cello layers the instrument becomes a string orchestra,
resulting in a field of texture and melody that’s so rich and dense the effect is mesmerizing, while he elsewhere
conjures a shimmering fairy-tale world (“Gwageus”) and creates settings equally majestic and mournful
(“Andalucía”). Deep symphonic tones, more suggestive of organ and horns than cello, give “Sleep” a Wagnerian
There is much to admire about this recording: first and foremost, the range of sound Laderas draws from the
cello, with its upper and lower registers and percussive potential amply exploited, and with pizzicatto playing
heard alongside the bowing (strikingly heard in “Bubbaly,” for example); and, secondly, the circumspection
shown in having the twelve settings last only three- to four-minutes on average. Each piece appears just long
enough to establish its own sound-world but then, having done so, exits. It’s truly remarkable to hear as
luscious a set-piece as “Chimes at Midnight” be brought to life in just three minutes.
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