OUA – Elements
Discus 9001DL
Available formats: DL


Jan Todd – laptop electronics, software instruments and samples, original found sounds, celtic harp, cross strung harp, jouhikko, alto tagelharpa, idiopan
Lorin Halsall – acoustic and electric double basses, electronics
Walt Shaw – drums, percussion, voice

This is the first in an occasional series of Discus Music “pay what you want” download only releases.

Orchestra Of The Upper Atmosphere’s sixth album, Theta Six, started life with 2 recording sessions on 7 May 2022 and 8 May 2022. At the first session we recorded a number of bass guitar driven rhythm pieces, and at the second we concentrated on free improvisation. Most of the second session was performed by a trio of Jan Todd, Lorin Halsall and Walt Shaw who played continuously for some 80 minutes, as if performing in concert. Large sections from this improvisation were subsequently collaged into Theta 6, but the original trio’s full performance stands alone as a complete piece of music, and is presented here as a separate DL only release for your enjoyment, and with our compliments.

Most of the “laminal style” improvisations which are heard on Theta 6 originate from this trio session.


Formed in 2010, this is the sixth instalment of their Theta series, the Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere and they continue to delight with their unique brand of spacey-dub-jazz. This is a great contribution to their library and one that has been on repeat from me. On this set, the recording sessions occurred on two days. On the first day, the tracks were led by Terry Todd’s bass lines with the ensemble improvising around the rhythm. The album opens with the near 13 minute ‘Forced Orbit’. Here, the bass feels around the echoey drums and wash of electronica before settling into a line that has more than a hint of Jah Wobble or Bill Laswell in its pulse, lyricism, and spaciness. Just like the best reggae dub records, the bass and drums keep a hypnotic rhythm while the sounds that are layered on top of this acquire their own logic. What distinguishes this recording from other artists, though, is the fluidity with which the improvisations develop and shift. Over the opening bass lines, the saxophone is layered to give a patina of effects that drift in and out of the sound. On the second day, Jan Todd, Halsall and Shaw recorded an 80 minute improvisation (which is released as ‘Germination’). Through a process of remixing that radically deconstructs and reassembles the two recording sessions, Theta Six was created. It has been an interesting experience to listen to the two recordings. But quite difficult to fully define which parts have come from the trio session and which from the ensemble. Ultimately, this is a good thing because Discus have given us two self-contained recordings that have a family link but quite independent personalities. –  Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS https://jazzviews.net/oua-elements-germination-orchestra-of-the-upper-atmosphere-theta-six/

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