Take one glance at the curious punctuation surrounding the name of Milwaukee/Chicago synth-rock duo (ORB), and you wouldn’t be blamed for dismissing the band as an aside, an afterthought. Both of the band’s members—Jeff Graupner on synth, Henry Chern on drums—are formerly of Terrior Bute, a likeminded group that broke up over three years ago. Yes, Graupner and Chern have been playing out under the (ORB) moniker since that break-up, but the only recorded evidence of the band’s existence is the single “Whole Wide World” and its accompanying video. Perhaps (ORB) is nothing more than a side project, something to pass the time and keep constrained to parentheses.
Or perhaps not. Next month, (ORB) will officially strike out on its own with the release of its debut album, Inside Voices. The 10-song collection finds Casey Marnocha (Catacombz, Dogs In Ecstasy, The Delphines) assuming production duties, and represents nearly a year and a half of work. If two advance tracks from the album are any indication, it will be worth the wait: “I Rewind” takes a soaring, Arcade Fire/Flaming Lips-esque melody and runs it through a cacophonous wash of synth, while “I Heard You Say My Name” embraces a more laid-back and starry-eyed approach before taking an unexpected turn around the three-minute mark. Both songs point to a sound that’s instantly familiar, yet bundled with enough Easter eggs to keep things lively and fresh.
Inside Voices will be released on cassette (complete with digital download card) via Gloss Records on August 6. Until then, listen to “I Rewind” and “I Heard You Say My Name,” only at Milwaukee Record.