Orkestra Del Sol, Gross National Happiness. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

It is funny how a nation’s wealth can be calculated, the national output determining just highly thought of a country is. It must be doing well goes the thought, for the economics say it is, and yet what comes scandalously lower down the list is the contentment in our lot, the thought that at one time we were not as tied to the system as we have shamefully become, that we are not nuts and bolts in a bloated capitalist machine.

The Gross National Happiness should be the way we calculate a nation’s worth, not with toys, fleeting possessions and the struggle to pay the debt back. Happiness may also be fleeting, it can struggle to find a foot hold in the snow of anger and collective dejection caused by outrage and disaster, yet somehow we covet it, we declare our love for it and we need it to survive. It is a feeling that sweeps over the listener when listening to the Orkestra del Sol as they revel in the manic and the exhilaration of their new album, Gross National Happiness.

The days of the anarchic may seemingly be long behind them but there is still the sound of the revolutionary express passion that makes the band radical and rebelliously beautifully to behold.

There is always a tinge in the air with anything that happiness touches; the realisation that for someone to be completely content, then somewhere, someone is feeling the pangs of heartbreak or disappointment. So it is with the exultant feel of the album, so it must balance out the listener understands that this is the final album that the band will be releasing. Sadness and joy in a perpetual dance, a jig for the melancholic and the cheerful to ask each other to hold hands and whisper in each other’s ears as other round them wheel and spin.

If you must go, then leave with a smile, leave those who beamed in your presence with the glory of the best yet to come and in Siempre La Hora, Dingomando, Headlines, King Jasper and Bernardo’s Elbow, the final moment is one captured in all its instrumental and anarchic pulse glory.

A final hurrah, one from a band that have truly lived up to their appeal, Gross National Happiness is a memory that will linger long on.

Ian D. Hall