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The double A-side digital single “Vorka” / “Spoken” is out on 10th September on Tru Thoughts, bringing an eagerly anticipated taste of new music from Hidden Orchestra ahead of their second album, ‘Archipelago’ (out 1st October).
The core quartet of Hidden Orchestra is formed around the duelling drum kits, percussion and electronic pads of two drummers, Tim Lane and Jamie Graham, completed by Poppy Ackroyd’s distinctive, multi-faceted violin and piano playing and Joe Acheson’s bass and original samples. Since the release of their 10,000 selling debut, ‘Night Walks’, their intricate, viscerally emotive and energetic sound has won them critical acclaim and a diverse fanbase, from bass and hip hop heads to jazz and classical aficionados to indie and rock fans. They have toured almost non-stop through over 20 countries, in addition to support stints for the likes of Bonobo, and with another busy festival season ahead, they were recently spotlighted by the Independent On Sunday as one of their ‘Sounds of the Summer’ 2012.
The new album sees Acheson, the musical mastermind behind the talented Edinburgh four-piece, continuing to explore and develop many themes that emerged on their debut, adding new ideas, guest players, instruments and found sounds. Hinting heavily at the artistic progression to be found across the longplayer, “Vorka” and “Spoken” are both strikingly original compositions, filled with melodic hooks and new, ear-catching sonic textures.
“Vorka” – which was premiered by The Line Of Best Fit and has alerady had 9,000 Soundcloud plays – was inspired by Acheson’s experience of working on a radio adaptation of a 1970’s Japanese sci-fi novel, and features an ethereal hook played on the musical saw by multi-skilled cellist Su-a Lee (also the saw player for Eric Clapton) in amongst her many layers of cello. 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 promo carries a Radio Edit of the eminently radio-friendly but somewhat epic original.
“Spoken” showcases the unique trumpet playing of Phil Cardwell, who conjures a mesmerising variety of tones. Unusual and experimental, this delicate, pulsing track is peppered with primal beats, memorable riffs and groove sections, building to a heavy crescendo, and has proven to be one of the most affecting live tracks when dropped into the set in recent months. 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.
An early track from ‘Archipelago’ made its way out of the studio on an EP last November: “Flight” (which has notched up 700,000 Soundcloud plays) gained heavy BBC 6Music play from Cerys Matthews (who also hosted a live session) and Huey Morgan, plus Jamie Cullum (BBC R2), Gilles Peterson (then BBC R1), Late Junction (BBC R3), John Kennedy (XFM) and more. The eagle-eared will also have spotted the burgeoning new material in Acheson’s mixtapes – a series of elaborate studio creations giving an insight into his singular musical sensibility, gaining tens of thousands of hits.
Other recent high points for Hidden Orchestra include performing on the West Holts stage at Glastonbury 2011 with a special ten-piece line-up; selling out their biggest London headline yet; and playing their first shows in Africa and Scandinavia, among many. Hidden Orchestra will be touring throughout the UK/Europe in Autumn.