Minotaur Shock is the flag of convenience for Bristol-based composer David Edwards. Edwards is usually described as an electronica musician, and though this is accurate as far as it goes, it seems too paltry and utilitarian a description for the colossal transports of eccentricity that comprise Orchard, Edwards’s fifth album under the Minotaur Shock name.
Most of the tracks on Orchard are somewhere between ambitious and epic: Only the rumbustious Afro-flamenco of “Quint” and the terse, pretty acoustic interlude “Too Big To Quit” come in at under four minutes. The longest, the nine-minute opening fanfare “Janet,” is more typical; for much of its long life it suggests an experiment in electronic surf rock, like Daft Punk playing Dick Dale, before it gives way to a pastoral folk guitar and violin interlude. Janet is clearly a complicated woman.
Edwards’s most obvious antecedents are the unorthodox, gently grandiose artists who defined the aesthetics of British label 4AD in the 1980s: Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Clan of Xymox. Fittingly, one of Minotaur Shock’s previous albums, 2005′s Maritime, was released by 4AD. Orchard is a worthy heir to a noble tradition, of strange, unbound music that sounds as if it was made not in a studio, but a shed, the consequence of determined tinkering by an inquiring and restless imagination.