Premiere: The Colorist Orchestra Shares New Collaboration With Howe Gelb, “Black Box”

Jun 30, 2021

By Caleb Campbell

Photography by Michelle Geerardyn


Avant-garde chamber pop ensemble The Colorist Orchestra has stuck thus far to reimagining other artists’ works. Led by Aarich Jespers and Kobe Proesmans, the group uses traditional classical and bespoke instrumentation, often played in unorthodox ways, to meticulously rework an invited artist’s music into new styles and forms. However, Not On The Map, their upcoming collaborative album with Giant Sands’ Howe Gelb, breaks new ground for the ensemble as they come forth with an entire album of original collaborations.

Today, Howe Gelb and The Colorist Orchestra share a live performance of their new unreleased single, “Black Box,” premiering with Under the Radar.

Aarich Jespers describes the album as a whole as “soft and dark.” He explains, “The Layer of low, muted toms is present in almost every song. The tempo of the album is also rather slow, ideal for sitting with a glass of whiskey in hand.” That is the exact contemplative reverie “Black Box” recreates. After opening with a recording from Gelb exploring the origins of the album, the orchestra gently makes itself known, the camera slowly surveying the rising symphonic build. Within the brief song, the orchestra touches on differing moods with playful woodwinds, soulful piano passages, gorgeous swelling strings, and unorthodox percussion, all pointing to the different directions the orchestra will take over the course of the album. It’s a tantalizing taste of more to come on the full record, due out this fall.

Jespers explains Gelb’s involvement saying, “[Howe Gelb gave] us the trust and the space to do whatever we wanted to do with the songs. Some songs were created from scratch while others were based on a demo recording of Howe. We started working on the new material with Howe after we had been on tour for a couple of nights and got the chance to get to know him a little better. Our arrangements and compositions, and his songwriting were already friends by then, so working on the album felt very organic and the synthesis of both worlds.”

Proesmans continues saying, “Howe’s personality ensured that throughout the entire process there remained a great peace and calm with, where necessary, always a flurry of humor and a sense of perspective. This enabled us to work with a great sense of detail and eagerness for beauty.”

Check out the song and live video below, along with live versions of the already released singles, “Counting On” and “More Exes.” Not On The Map is out October 1st on Dangerbird Records.

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