Hidden Orchestra “Vorka / Spoken” | Tru Thoughts
Edinburgh’s quartet Hidden Orchestra are a brilliant an exhilarating band and one we have been eagerly anticipating a follow up to their first full length Night Walks and the EP Flight. Elegant excursions into modern and electronic jazz and classical forms, Hidden Orchestra are a sound that is making a huge presence around the world and in a very meaningful way. As a band from the Tru Thoughts imprint, they have worked relentlessly to push their hypnotic sound further into the worlds consciousness. This September and October, the Hidden Orchestra is setting sail once again with the release of a double A-side digital single for the brand new tracks “Vorka” and “Spoken” along with a new full length album containing the singles, Archipelago. If you are new to the group the Hidden Orchestra, they are comprised of the transfixing percussive tandem of drummers Tim Lane and Jamie Graham, pianist and violinist Poppy Ackroyd and bassist and original samples from Joe Acheson. The music is highly enriched, mixed to a crisp sound that allows all the parts to radiate to the brightest degree. It’s really strong music with resonating spaces for sonic bliss through solo’s and beautiful harmony. It’s music that is really alive and takes little rests.
When I first heard the group’s debut full length, it was an immediate connection and general state of deep admiration. The sonic waves of the fusion era of jazz in the 70′s, chamber music, electronica and more became a vehicle and body for the pulsing storm of energy on their debut. Hidden Orchestra take all these tools of the past and modern age and create sublime and color plated motion picture level compositions. The dueling drums is a feature that adds the most organic dimension to the music, always sounding as open, alive and technical as any of the greats in drumming history. When Tru Thoughts sent us the new single for the double A side release “Vorka” and “Spoken” slated in September of this year, we were immediately taken back to those initial experiences with the band. This time around the inclusion of guest musicians marks a turn of melodic identity while retaining many of the features that have made this band so memorable. As the lead off single for the new album Archipelago coming out in October, the band has risen up once again with momentous power through tones from a spell binding continuation of the Hidden Orchestra sound.
“Vorka” is a shinning example of the cinematic depth the Hidden Orchestra sound produces. Deep layering of percussion and surreal overtones of keys and samples mark the pathway for Eric Clapton’s cellist who displays her talents through the musical saw. It feels like there are hands coming from out of the field of tones and are pulling you in moment after moment. It’s a really lush and intricate state of harmony and rhythm that sounds like the Cinematic Orchestra and Jaga Jazzist conjoined. Tru Thoughts couldn’t have summed up this track better and added some interesting notes about the background of this piece. “Propelled by a chunky beat and plenty of bass, the track – which also incorporates a dynamic drum battle interlude – has the feel of a coalescing montage of individual sequences, and the title references Slavo Vorkapic, a Serbian filmmaker who made short montage sequences in the ‘30s for Hitchcock et al, and whose surname was co-opted as film-world shorthand for a montage sequence; Acheson’s acquaintance with this fact happily coincided with the completion of this tune.” The relationship between the classical, jazz and electronic approaches to sound are melted into one.
“Spoken” is a beautiful diversion of sorts for the Hidden Orchestra, with a much more minimal approach rhythmically in most of the piece with a deep, meditative aura that is identified in tone and resonance by the powerful trumpet of guest Phil Cardwell. The overtones are as surreal as it gets with the beautiful sample work of birds and waves added for a dream world unparalleled. Tru Thoughts had this to add about the origins of the samples on “Spoken”. “The birds and waves were recorded by Acheson on a boat and ashore on the tiny remote Scottish island North Rona in the company of Poppy and her father, the artist Norman Ackroyd, on a trip to gather sketches for his etchings, which the band use as the basis of all their release artwork.” The trumpet is washed over with a small amount of reverb and creates an intense ride into hypnotics. The passageway and dawning of a new age in the Hidden Orchestra is abound in this piece. The percussion heats up but gives way to breaking points that highlight all the subtle additives that make this band so special. Out of the depths of the mix comes the strident trumpet and wavering sequences of sound. The drum roll that sequences into the heaviest part of the track near the end is mind blowing and shows a band whose presence and command over dynamics gives them endless pathways within the same keys and rhythmic cycles. The backbone of the piece is minimal with an arrangement that is layered into what feels like infinite parts.
The Hidden Orchestra are a band whose musical prowess and purpose speaks a really serious language. It’s a language I live for in music and is something that has accelerated the shape of music well beyond the times we live in. Grab a digital copy of the single “Vorka” and “Spoken” from Tru Thoughts and don’t miss out on the full length Archipelago in the first week of October. These are without a doubt must own items in the illustrious year of 2012.