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The “Flight” EP, out digitally on 7th November, is the second single from Edinburgh based quartet Hidden Orchestra, who released their stunning debut album ‘Night Walks’ on Tru Thoughts in September 2010, and have seen their star continue to rise in the intervening year with an ever-growing media and word-of-mouth buzz. Highly in demand as a live act, their touring schedule this year alone has taken in 20 countries as their incredible music has worked its way into hearts and minds the World over. This EP brings eagerly anticipated new material and remixes.
Glastonbury Festival 2011 saw Hidden Orchestra debut an augmented 10-piece line up, as well as being interviewed live on BBC 6Music by Shaun Keaveny and Cerys Matthews, who was so taken with the band she has booked them for a live 6Music session on 6th November. The regular quartet is formed around the duelling drum kits, percussion and electronic pads of drummers Tim Lane and Jamie Graham, and completed with the piano and violin of Poppy Ackroyd and the bass and samples of bandleader and composer Joe Acheson. The result is explosive, percussive, and resplendent with layers of intense soundscapes that take audiences on a deeply original sonic journey containing elements of jazz, classical, drum ‘n’ bass, rock and hip hop, moulded into a coherent whole. Giving fans a window into the astonishing musical mind that drives this band, Acheson has put out three studio mixtapes this year, and these impeccably honed promo mixes have had over 50,000 downloads and counting.
The first official release of brand new material since the album came out, “Flight” was developed in part for a BBC Radio 4 documentary about flying carpets (!) called “The Magic Carpet Flight Manual”; it was for this that Acheson – also a Sony-nominated radio producer – created the magic carpet flying sound effects you hear in the track. It has evolved into this intense and transporting piece which, at almost eight minutes long, explores a dubby avenue with a strong half-time feel running against a faster double-time context. Dotted rhythms in the kicks and snares and an occasional bass wobble interplay with acoustic basses and percussion including castanets, metal pipes, snare drums and ride cymbals. The jazz influence that often characterises Hidden Orchestra’s work is barely there, giving way to a very strong folk feel. Acheson expands: “This track is the strongest testimony yet to the eleven years I have been living in Scotland – you can hear the folk influence creeping into the melodies, harmonies, and instrumentation.”
Harpist Mary Macmaster features heavily in the track, playing the clarsach – a traditional Scottish wire-strung harp. A legendary figure of the Scottish live folk scene, Mary has performed with Hidden Orchestra a number of times this year including Glastonbury Festival, North Sea Jazz, Edinburgh Jazz Festival and Insider Festival. “Flight” also features the band’s two most regular live guests reprising their appearances on ‘Night Walks’ – Su-a Lee (cello) and Fraser Fifield (low whistle and soprano sax) – and in addition plays host to a cameo appearance on clarinet from the celebrated Czech producer Tomáš Dvořák (aka Floex, who also created the remix of “Dust” for this release).
The promo also includes a Radio Edit of “Flight”, and in addition to “Dust (Floex remix)” the release features three new remixes: previous single “Footsteps” is given a beautiful reworking by Lost Twin, and “The Windfall” receives the treatment from both Maddslinky (aka Zed Bias) and The Colonel. The single is also out on 10” vinyl, care of Denovali Records. A limited pressing includes exclusive “no-drums” and “drums-only” versions of “Flight” – a unique idea borne of the fact that the drums in Hidden Orchestra are such a feature that they stand up on their own; conversely, it brings forward the layers of orchestration occasionally lost to the thickness of the drum textures.