The Orchestra of Cardboard is a collaboration between artist and filmmaker Dan Edelstyn and his close allies, Hilary Powell, Nick Graham Smith and Zac Gvirtzman. The album Songs For The Forthcoming War is released on 1st March, all proceeds will fund the purchase of dynamite. Yes you read that correctly! Dynamite!
The Orchestra of Cardboard is an artistic cog in a much bigger machine known as the Bank Job; a mischievous feature documentary produced by Dan and Hilary that follows a North London community coming together to make their own currency and open a bank. Taking part is Barn Croft Primary School, Eat or Heat Food Bank, the Pl84U Homeless Kitchen and The Soul Project Youth Project. This act of citizen money creation is both a way of raising real money for some of the poorest in the community and a way of fundraising to buy and destroy £1 million of local predatory debts.
Which is where the Orchestra of Cardboard comes in. The explosives purchased from sales of the album will be used to blow up a cash in transit vehicle stuffed with £1m of local payday debt in an act of economic disobedience and provocation against the establishment.
“Everywhere I look I see the seeds of war, the migration crisis, the rigged right wing press, the threats of global warming, the insidious poverty, the greed and corruption of banks,” Dan says. “Politics are polarising, the markets are soaring away from reality, peoples’ souls are hardening, the streets are full of car horns, the papers are full of fury. People are scared of standing up, we are adrift and lunatics have taken control of the steering wheel.”
The relationship between music, film and story telling is at the heart of the band. Highly cinematic, when playing live songs are performed alongside projected films and the band wears cardboard masks. “These songs are offered to every man, woman and child as a balm in the spirit of fraternal love and equality. They’re sung to a battered and broken world in much need of healing. We hope they will be accepted in the spirit in which they are intended.”
The album reflects Dan Edelstyn’s interest in 20th century history and the music takes us on a journey in styles through theatrical to lullaby. Perhaps a little like the merging of the soundtracks of Cabaret and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with a touch of early Pink Floyd!
There are many stand out tracks including Jazz Girl and I Lit A Fire. One of the real jewels on the album is The Shetlands, which is a love song duet about an imagined escape from London to a quieter life on the remote northern Island and can be seen below.
The album has been produced and mastered by Nick Graham Smith, who used to work with Malcolm McClaren and has been Dan’s music partner for many years.