New single out now: Orontes

World Within Worlds is proud to announce the release of Orontes’ debut album, Dancing on the Heads of Snakes – a record where a diverse range of instruments combine to create mystery, intricacy and haunting moods. 

 

Taking influence from Levant, African, Iranian and blues styles, composer Michel Gasco counts Hazma el Din, Nizar Rouhana, Ali Farka Toure, Ustad Rahim Khushnawaz, Mohammad-Rezā Lotfi and more as critical influences to his music. Hailing from Spain, Gasco adds a subtle of hint of his homeland into the music – yet each of the six tracks on Dancing on the Heads of Snakes bears deep multi-cultural influence with an authentic and earnest representation of distinct middle-eastern styles. Oud, Afghan rubab, bass flute, violin, double bass and more combine with a dense percussion set to create something that spans across cultures, borders and themes alike.

“I was never a listener of flamenco or any other Spanish music,” begins Gasco, “but after listening to all the music of your country since you are born (and five years playing with an oriental flamenco band), these elements really influenced me. If you listen carefully to the pieces, apart from the Levant influences, you can hear many other sounds. I started my career as a blues/rock player which led me to start listening and playing African, Arabic, Afghan and Iranian music after I stopped. Yet there are one or two moments on the record where you’ll hear the Spanish traditions – after the flute solo in Khorasan’s Secret or in Shams – it is not on purpose, but again these traditions really influenced me.”

The first single from the album, Dimashq Blues, is a shifting dance between elaborate compositional elements. Clucking strings, intricate woodwind and delicate drumming paces into a harmonious interplay between instruments – shifting from a trot into a race as the song continues. Each instrument is put to the test, seemingly swaying and coiling around every other part of the song, creating something that writhes with force like a rising tide.

Dimashq Blues was the first piece thought for this project,” begins Gasco. “It’s a kind of tribute to Damascus – the capital of Syria. I lived in that country for two years, and I really miss it and feel terrible about what happen to my friends there and the whole country – but at the same time I didn´t want to compose something sad and nostalgic. For me it was more like reproducing the atmosphere from when I lived there, sometimes heavy and dense, hypnotic, almost as if life moves slow as if it was going to stop. Then you realize that it never does, and suddenly you are in the middle of this amazing, unexpected situation. It’s very difficult to explain all these feelings about it.”

With this balance between instrumental interplay and scene-setting, Orontes prove they are more than capable of capturing both ears and the imaginations of world music lovers. In the half-year since their formation, the band has already performed with expert artists such as Kyoko Oikawa (Arabic violin), Takashima (darbuka) and Miho (Turkish oriental dancing), along with a successful show at the Casa Arabe in Madrid. The release of Dancing on the Heads of Snakes marks the beginning of a new chapter for Orontes, one that will surely be remembered for their brilliant compositions and instrumental versatility.

Orontes’ debut Dancing on the Heads of Snakes drops on Bandcamp as of September 12th. Their first single, Dimashq Blues, is available for streaming now.