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Sometimes she’d go out on the porch where her mother could see her; to roll a joint. And Loraine would have smile on her face that made her look a little crazy, as if she had a secret that no one else knew.

I liked watching her.

One hot summer night Loraine said "Now it’s time for you to see the Lighthouse". Which was out on Montok point. At the end of a long rocky peninsula, the lighthouse was set dramatically against the night sky, a beam of light circling around it. The early morning fog was rolling in.

And all the while she said . . .

spoken words from the track Montok point

Strange Cargo Hinterland is an album of music by William Orbit from 1995, after his Strange Cargo III but before his production work for Madonna and Pieces in a modern style.

The principal instruments are synthesisers and drum machines, with some mostly indistinct female vocals, which I guess makes it techno. Most of the pieces are not up tempo enough to be danceable, and are soothing even, which I guess makes it ambient.

Oddly the muted breakbeat drum patterns, though typical of much music of this time, don’t seem to anchor this album into a specific musical period. I think that it has lasted well.

Most of my friends don't get this album. They didn't fall for it like I did. I think they see it as pleasant, but undemanding and tritely melodic, nothing special. It is pleasant, but the reason why I like it so much is because somehow, with hardly any words, it evokes a very specific spirit of a place and time. The whole album fits together into this.

For me this place and time is imaginary, outside of my experience, a ship with a puzzling cargo, assembled from hints of the land.

I see it as a northern seaside resort town. I see it in winter, a cool breeze blowing. The light is a grey; colour muted under the cold clouds as the dark amorphous sea slowly shifts. Perhaps it is on the coast of Canada.

The people are mostly gone for the season, and past and future are one, out of reach. The bittersweet memories of a long-ago summer, perhaps in the tacky end of the 1950s, return vanished people seem to almost talk again, and stories seem to hide. The coastline has intricate mysteries of geography, not overt and ubiquitous, but rare and hard to find. It's about watching the rain on the rocks and sea through a window from inside a warm room with a fire burning. Something just beyond pinning down, an amorphous experience with shifting edges, inexpressible in words.

The album opens with Million town: A million people? A million dollars? What happens after the gold rush? Where did it all go, and was it worth it?

Montok point is as close as this disk gets to rocking out, and shows Mr Orbit's determination to never cut loose, even when the situation seems to call for it.

The album ends with a tantalising vignette, The last dream of Lucy Mariner. If she's a mariner, did she drown? Or is it just a name? Did she dream her last dream old, in bed, dreaming of a long-ago drowned lover? Did she dream of sunlight and nobody at all drowned? Or was it a last dream as in a dying wish? We may never know, but I think she was at peace, be it in the still eternal depths or on dry land.

Strange Cargo: Hinterland

1 Million Town
2 She Cries your name
3 Montak Point
4 Hullaville
5 Kiss of the Bee
6 El Ninjo
7 Crimes of the Future
8 The name of the wave
9 Say anything
10 Lost in blue
11 Hinterland
12 The last dream of Lucy Mariner

Copyright 1995 Warner Music.

From the liner notes:
Composed, performed, produced and mixed by William Orbit at Guerrilla studios London and Cargo Beach California. 'She cries your name' by Orbit / Orton. 'Kiss of the Bee' by Orbit / Orton / Leach.

With the voices of Delores Del Amo 'Say Anything', Christine Leach 'Kiss of the bee' and 'The name of the Wave', Joe Frank and Ibrahim Hermosa 'Montok Point', Laurie Mayer 'The Last dream of Lucy Mariner', Sharon Musgrave 'Lost in blue', Beth Orton 'She Cries your name' 'Kiss of the bee' and 'Million Town', Cleo Torres 'Hinterland'

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