Review: Soothsayer Orchestra ‘The Last Black Flower’
Soothsayer Orchestra is the vehicle in which Pieter Hendriks expels his deepest musical desires. The press release states he’s a musician ‘who has enough gumption to leave the commonplace behind and only take with him what can enrich his music and performance. Pieter’s gravelly voice possesses an uneasy moodiness that reflects doom and despair, which immerses you in the dark side of life. Then, amidst this darkness, Hendriks shifts his compositions to newfound hope, warm and flowing, creating a longing, yet bold mood.’
His most recent offering is called The Last Black Flower, and it is the embodiment of all that he is, and all that he has done.
Tracks 1 and 2, Celestial Virtues and Bonediggers Blues, are two of my very favorite songs from the album, despite the fact that they are quite different from one another. The former, Celestial Virtues has a bit of a dark goth meets ‘80s alt rock feel to it, making me think of bands like The Cure, with their melancholy attributes shining through. The tones of the guitar also bring to mind U2, their earlier work specifically, back when they were good and not over produced, redundant radio pop-rock.
Then Bonediggers Blues takes over and showcases the fact that there’s a dark bluesman residing within Hendriks musical identity. I was pulled in rather quickly, with the harmonica digging its fingers into my mind, completely selling me on what I was about to hear. It is bluesy, it is darkly entrancing and expertly played, and it is the absolute highlight of this entire record. The nice thing is it isn’t so different from the Celestial Virtues that it doesn’t fit, which is something that I feel is very important when a musician creates an album.
A few tracks later, we come across The Gleaming of Beryl. Hendriks raspy voice is accompanied by what sounds like a finger-picked guitar part, retaining a dark yet introspective vibe that fills the entirety of this song. I love the addition of a cello, a hauntingly beautiful instrument that always makes music more captivating for me. This is one of those songs that you can feel deep in your bones and is easily relatable.
It is bluesy, it is darkly entrancing and expertly played…
Everlasting Wings begins with a latter era Johnny Cash vocal, which is more spoken than sung. This may bring to mind Tom Waits or even a bit of Nick Cave, but that Johnny Cash feel is the predominant influence in my opinion. The music also has that dark country and blues vibe, making for another great track on this album.
And the winner for best song title goes to… Destroy Humanity! There’s a bit of an upbeat feel mixed in with the darker sound that permeates this record, and seeing how this album was written during the pandemic, it could be interpreted as a song about the Covid deniers; but that’s open to how the listener perceives the lyrics.
After I finished listening to the album, I found that while I enjoyed the tracks that we talked about, I also wouldn’t use this as my everyday listening. The Last Black Flower is a heavy record lyrically and sonically, so I would have to be in the mood for that type of session. Don’t mistake that as me not enjoying what Hendriks creates, because I definitely did, it’s just not my normal genre and as I said, I’d need to be in the mood for this style.
So head out to investigate Soothsayer Orchestra and The Last Black Flower for yourselves, it is an experience worth having, and more than once at that. Enjoy!!
Label: Lay Bare Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram
Scribed by: Tom Hanno