Track Review: Ora The Molecule: Samurai

‘The dance-inducing fusion of Asian and Western influences make it irresistibly appetising.’

Intro to Ora The Molecule:
Given that Nora Schjelderup grew up in Norway, formed her band in LA and now lives alongside her band mates
in Spain, it should come as no surprise that Ora the Molecule‘s music doesn’t fall into a set genre. However, with their debut release ‘Sugar’ featuring a musical
fusion of panpipes, western beats, cool jazz saxophone lines and left-field lyricism, avant-garde certainly provides the best fit. So, in an effort to go beyond their own unique musicality, lead vocalist Nora, drummer Sju Smatanova and synthesiser player and producer Jan Blumentrath return with the Asian influenced Samurai.

Track Review:
Soothing and calming us, the choir-like vocals of Samurai’s introduction bring gentle excitement to what is to be an enthralling track. Accompanied initially by sparse piano-esque chords, the evolving harmonies swirl around hypnotically drawing us in. Sitting somewhere between warm and haunting, it makes for the perfect led up to the sound that is about to come through.

With additional bass lines introduced, the sense of hypnosis moves to reveal a more melodic, synth led texture. Effortlessly earwormy, these lines serve – as it turns out – a double purpose. Standalone and blending with the other accompanying elements, they are incredibly effective. However, given that they set up fragments of later vocal melody, it showcases the compositional prowess of Ora the Molecule perfectly.

Continuing to move through this new, more energised atmosphere, the rhythmical intent of the accompaniment is complimented by the steadier pace within the vocal. Set in the relaxed way that it is, lines such as ‘give back her time’ form a wonderful juxtaposition with the textural elements that appear before and after. Likewise, the subtle beat changes, as well as soft harmonies that occur as we head into the pre-chorus, mean that the transitions between happen seamlessly.

While the musical focus to this point has very much been on the balance of energy and relaxation, on reaching the chorus, the more exposed sound builds via the inclusion of growing string harmonies. Happening only in the repeat, their initial use here takes us in the real direction of the track: an irresistibly appetising, dance-inducing musical fusion of asian and western influences. Combining electro drums with sublimely catchy electronic zither based hooks, the track fully hits its stride and with the underlying beats becoming stronger, instrumental settings of the vocal really come to the fore. Considering where the track began, we really have been transported to another place in more ways than one.

Turning once more to the verses, the second builds further on what has just been set up. This time though, the textural elements are less sparse resulting new ideas, such as call and response style melodic synth and xylophone lines to emerge. Rhythmically echoing, as well as fading in and out, you are subconsciously directed through what you are hearing. Getting drawn to different elements of the soundscape-like atmosphere at different moments, it really is something. But that something is about to get even better.

Signalled in the most appropriately genius of ways – by the sounding of a distant gong – the track turns to become fully instrumental. However, while until now these moments have served as transitions, the transition is not to occur this time. Instead, the influences of before take complete hold and in becoming increasingly shameless, the most perfect blend of eastern melodies and western beats is achieved.

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