An Orpheum Bell rehearsal: On bass, Serge van der Voo; vocals sung through a gramophone horn, Aaron Klein.
I’m wedged in the corner of a west side Ann Arbor basement amongst a jumble of musical instrument cases. The cases belong to the six musicians of Orpheum Bell. There’s more than one case per musician – they each play an array of different instruments. During a break in the rehearsal, I have to ask: What is that? It’s a Stroh violin, “spelled like the beer,” explains Annie Crawford.
The rehearsal is geared towards a CD release show at The Ark on Dec. 4. I’m soaking in the sounds of the basement practice mostly because of that CD, the group’s second – “Pearls.”
Serge van der Voo had sent along a review copy of the CD to The Chronicle. In a world of MP3 files flung around the Internet, a physical CD is an awfully clunky way to deliver musical data. But when I unfolded the heavy card stock CD cover into its 16-inch total length, I noticed one of the folds was not exactly uniform and regular – not the way you’d expect if a machine had produced several thousand of them.
An even closer examination revealed that the print quality was not the laser-like rigid perfection that a modern digital printer delivers. Which is not to say it was sloppy. On the contrary. It was more like trace-evidence that human hands had played a role. Who were these people with the apparently handcrafted CD case? To get some insight, I had crammed myself back amongst those instrument cases in the corner of a basement for two hours. [Full Story]