Vibrant waves and compositional style – Australia’s Phortah releases his debut album on Heimlich Musik


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Being on the Heimlich radar for some time, never losing track of Australia’s Phortah has resulted in the very first long play release by Heimlich Musik. Phortah’s debut album “Olua” drifts between the vibrant waves of ten tracks founded on a uniquely emotive sound and compositional style. The album courses a transformative evening, punctuated by a myriad of broken beats and straight four to the floor grooves. Organic performances of strings, vocals, flutes and percussion are featured in combination with analogue and digital synthesis and beat design. Phortah’s sound is at once nostalgic and gritty; incorporating also field recordings and noise. Olua journeys between flowing passages contrasted with abrupt and surprising moments.

The album was recorded and produced on Gumbaynggirr country in Bellingen and on Newry Island, New South Wales, Australia. The power of the surrounding rivers, forests and ocean have greatly influenced the music. Phortah acknowledges the traditional custodians of this land, the Gumbaynggirr people. Lila Swain recorded her vocals in Berlin. Given the spectrum of sound aesthetics, the album format appeared to be the only logical way to release this unique piece of art.

trndmsk: How did you choose the title of the LP? Is there a special meaning behind it?

Phortah: It’s a word I made up to represent a transformative process I’ve been experiencing. In short, it’s about trading negative stories and emphasis for appreciation. Appreciation for what is.

What inspired you to produce the tracks and the LP?

It’s medicinal for me to work with sound. Basically I show up every day I can and the work comes together in some form. Olua happened in this way; it’s a very intuitive process.

Where and how did you produce the tracks?

I worked mainly from my studio on Newry Island, NSW Australia. I tend to improvise with whatever instrument(s) I feel like playing, with the record button on. Then I find what I like and work with it and try to clear out what isn’t needed. I also invite people I meet to come and session with me, this keeps things fresh.

How was the feedback so far?

My close crew who know my work have been super supportive as always. The Heimlich crew are also really happy with the release. Otherwise I haven’t shared it around much.

How and why did you choose the record label?

I’ve kept in touch as a fan and follower of Heimlich Musik over the years. They reviewed an unreleased playlist I shared with them recently and it was actually their idea to put it out as an LP which was a really pleasant surprise. They’ve also put out tunes by some audio heroes of mine like O/Y, Ninze and Niju to name a few, so it’s an honour to be in such company.

What’s up next after the release? Any plans and projects?

I’ve been playing Phortah shows live as a solo act and also in band arrangements with live musicians and performance artists. I like experimenting with how to make the live shows more powerful. There are some other possibilities on the horizon, what I can say for sure is that there are more tracks on the go which can already be heard in my live sets.