Formed in 2018, Selfless Orchestra is a collaborative emergence of musicians from the creative community of Perth, Australia, born with the manifesto of creating spaces in which hope and despair co-exist, where audiences can be educated and inspired about issues of social and environmental justice through poetical musical performance.
Influenced by Post-Rock acts that fuse classical and contemporary styles, founding members Steven Alyian (Injured Ninja, Usurper of Modern Medicine, Doublethink Prism), Ray Grenfell (Last Quokka), Madeline Antoine and Jerome Turle (The Weapon Is Sound) lost no time in recruiting musicians and artists to the ensemble, which combines live video projections with the music in a lineup that was planned to evolve with every performance, donating proceeds of their gigs towards community causes.
Challenging conventions of traditional music in immersive shows that break the fourth wall, their first performance is called Great Barrier, a composition designed to educate and empower audiences to become part of a movement to help protect Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The first song from this performance ‘Eden is Lost’ was released in April 2019, followed by a full season of performances at Perth’s Fringe Festival in 2020.
The full studio album of Great Barrier, now released on Perth company Stock Records, takes the listener on a comprehensive journey that weaves orchestral strings, huge distorted guitars, haunting flutes, experimental percussion, whale song and more into a rich sonic tapestry. Featuring a vast array of musicians including members of the Perth Symphony Orchestra and legendary Perth Metal act Karnivool, this is something special.
Throughout the whole recording, you are immersed in an ocean-like sense of wall-to-wall sound that is quite mesmerisng, and pretty powerful. Expressing the beauty of the reef with the epic opening opus Time is a Flower, the album explores the complex relationship between the natural treasure that is the Reef with humankind. The drone and dirge of False Bodies aims to capture the sometimes two-faced nature of humans; the piano-led ballad Bleached sings the lament of the dying corals. Beyond All Illusion expresses the sense fury and desperation at senseless governments and resource industries; before the despair is turned into a glimmer of hope and resurrection with the uplifting Eden is Lost.
This seamless and expansive album is a powerful culmination of an array of talented musicians from a vast array of disciplines, forming to become greater than their whole and recorded live in single studio takes with no editing. The raw and powerful performance of Selfless Orchestra’s Great Barrier is a uncompromising statement, a love letter to a natural wonder and a call to action to stand strong and protect that which is precious to us.
It’s not always easy listening – but isn’t that exactly the point, this is an emotional journey in which the ensemble share their souls, and want to soften ours. And they succeed! Immerse yourselves in this and you wont be disappointed.
The Selfless Orchestra’s line-up for this recording is:
Steven Alyian – Guitar, Water Harp; Raymond Grenfell – Bass; Madeline Antoine – Violin; Jerome Turle – Drums; Miranda Murray-Yong – Cello; Aaron Wyatt – Viola; Angus Young – Piano;
Bhavani Naea – Vocals; Drew Goddard – Guitar; and Matthew Hatch – Flute
Credits for the album are:
Producer – Steven Alyian; Performers – Selfless Orchestra; Engineers – Kieran Kendressy, Rebecca Parker and Jacob Aitken; Mastered by Mikey Young; Artwork by Hugh Faulkner; the whole being recorded in Perth, Western Australia