When we interview artists on MusicMap, we often ask them whether their local environment affects their music. In the case of ORKA, the Faroe Islands collective headed by Jens L. Thomsen, they weren’t just affected by their local environment – they literally made their music out of it. By re-appropriating agricultural tools on a small local farm and turning them into instruments, ORKA developed a unique style that saw them wowing critics around the world and earning two nominations for the Nordic Council Music Prize.
Since then the music of ORKA has taken a leftfield deviation, using samples of those instruments to create an insistent, industrial sound described as “twisted neanderthal techno”. Their latest EP <13 continues that development, enlisting the help of regular collaborator Oktopus (internet.and.weed, BKGD Audio, Dälek) and utilising found sounds collected on travels through New York, London and the Faroe Islands (as well as snatches of artists such as Papay Gyro Nights, This Is Waa and Barbara í Gongini).
The EP is released today via Cargo Records and Kervið, and you can get the first taste of gritty, vivacious opening track ‘Escuelita’ here. Stream it exclusively below, then scroll down to read Jens L. Thomsen’s take on how the track picked up audio residue from the cities he passed through while recording it…
“As with most of the tunes on this EP this song went through many changes before it took its final form. It started as a slowed down, minimal techno tune when Alap (BKGD Audio) started working on it during one of our stops on tour in Germany and it was pulled in a slightly grimier UK Bass direction when I continued work on it in my London studio.
“While later finishing the recordings in Alap’s studio in Harlem it took a completely different turn after we went to a Vogue Knights / Qween Beat evening at the Escuelita Club in New York (which has now sadly been closed down) where we saw a vogue ballroom competition. We were already fans of many acts in the underground vogue ballroom scene such as DJ Mike Q, Cakes da Killa and Byrell the Great. But the dance is inseparable from the music and witnessing the competition together with legend Mike Q on decks was a view into a new world.
“Fuelled by the excessive levels of energy of the evening we finished the track the day after, making it both more fun and more dark and a deep New York colour was added to the track, both musically but also literally, as we added samples from the streets of New York which Alap’s wife Alexandra and my girlfriend Kirstin had recorded the day before of marching bands, cab horns and chatter. We named the track after the Escuelita Club.”
<13 by ORKA is out now on Cargo Records and Kervið.