Release Date: Out Now
The first album review of the year is here and it’s time to have a listen to enigmatic new Plymouth based artist Ortaka. Genres and the like can be left at the door as we take a wonky and decidedly skewed look through the kaleidoscope that is the bluntly titled debut album, ‘You Are Not Special’. The eleven-track album opens up with ‘He Looks Sweet To Me’ and you’re instantly transported to Richard Hawley and the Arctic Monkeys jamming out a lounge tune in the back room of a Sheffield pub on a Sunday afternoon with slinky guitars, deadpan vocals and the kind of lyrics that Jim Noir wouldn’t kick out of bed for farting. It’s an intriguing start, to say the least.
‘HoloGrafik Dancer’ is up next and has a completely different vibe that starts with gentle trancey sounds and then erupts in to a My Bloody Valentine-esque distortion fest with a dark and menacing tone that is as delicious as it is disturbing. The titles on this album are a treat, not least ‘Ah Pook is Here Again’ which rolls in to view on the back of a hypnotically simple bass line and lo-fi synth melodies that create a swirling and frenetic atmosphere. ‘Your Honey’ sounds like someone covering Queens of the Stone Age on an organ and a fuzzed-up bass guitar while the Lovely Eggs shout production tips from behind a two-way mirror.
|Ortaka - Arm Chair Bear|
Ortaka ratchets up the bleakness on ‘Isle of Alcohol’ (geddit?) and we seep in to Radiohead territory with a late-night vibe before ‘Trust’ sparkles and shimmers with a gentler energy that takes the indie-pop whimsy of Pulp and blends it with some 70s French avant-garde disco punk to make something beautiful. ‘Surrender to Your Enemy’ is the kind of tune you’d expect to hear in the Bang Bang Bar at the end of a twisted episode of Twin Peaks as Ortaka delivers a flat instruction to “Get loose little daddy, get loose little mumma” over a garage punk beat.
There is a stunning beat opening up ‘Appleseed’ and then layers of seductive yet doomy organs punctured only by the pulsating bass line. The bass takes centre stage again on ‘The Waiting Room’ as it pulsates and bubbles allowing the synths to swirl like electro fairies dancing in the artificially generated sunrise. Penultimate track ‘Love Means Heartbreak’ returns to the doomy theme with that Josh Homme style and chord progression making this a delicious prospect. The album closes out with ‘Battlefields’ which has an 80s inspired beat and a twitchy, edgy vibe that is the kind of vibe I could easily find myself getting wrapped up in on a dark night out. Ortaka is one of those background talents that has a huge range and imagination but has no desire to seek the fame that such talent richly deserves – think Aphex Twin but with some more rock’n’roll influences. And if that doesn’t get you interested then jog on, I have no time for you.