The momentum has been building for years, but now the time is finally ripe for Arkarna to emerge with a bang back onto the world's stage
Arkarna, An outfit so ahead of their time, that the svengali behind the project, precocious engineering prodigy Ollie Jacobs, has been spending years perfecting his craft, working with the likes with Leftfield (mixing their seminal album Leftism), The Prodigy and Madonna rather than having his own name in lights.
His band first hit the scene in 1997 with the critically-acclaimed, platinum-selling debut album Fresh Meat, but after touring the world to thousands of fans, Ollie became disillusioned with the way major labels wanted to mould him, so went underground to make the kind of music that satisfied his soul - albeit for other artists.
Fast-forward a decade, and Ollie finally found a collaborator to meet his exacting creative remit in his quest to re-launch the vision for the band.
Step forward talented guitarist and songwriter Matt Hart. For the past three years, the pair have hunkered down in their north west London studio and now, they've finally completed the incendiary, ground-breaking album that they know will propel them to the forefront of today's music scene. Yes, Arkarna are back to claim their space on the dancefloor, moshpit and in discerning music lovers' record collections the planet over. No-one else sounds quite like Arkarna.
When Ollie and Matt first met, it was electric - literally. Ollie, a programmer and singer, who's been a producer at his dad's Queen's Park studio Rollover since he was 14, was on the lookout for someone to take Arkarna's electro-pop sound to the next level.
Then he met Matt, who left a lasting impression in more ways than one. A smalltown West Sussex boy with a big dream, Matt had studied music classically since his childhood, but recovering from a life-threatening bout of illness aged 15, he started playing rock guitar. Later, while studying a degree in music at the prestigious Goldsmiths University in London, he saw an ad for auditions at Rollover, and, ever ambitious, went for it.
Matt explains: "When I went to meet Ollie, I was in a rush, it was chucking down with rain, and I didn't put a bin liner on my amplifier. I tried to mop it down when I got there, but when they plugged me in to play, it gave everyone an electric shock. So before I'd even played, I'd electrocuted half the band, haha."
Ollie enthuses: "When I saw Matt playing, I knew instantly that he had a magic about him that I needed in my creative journey. We ended up working on high end sessions work together, with the likes of Boyzone. But when I started dreaming up some new Arkarna material, Matt was a natural progression so it just developed from that."
Now a genuine song-writing partnership, the self-confessed knobtwiddler and balls-out rocker were a marriage made in heaven and the rest will be electrifying history - but year zero is 2010.
Arkarna have already made global inroads over the past few years, soundtracking Levis ads in the States and, right now, they're the sound of one of the biggest-selling alcoholic drinks in Russia.
Arkarna's single So Little Time was also the theme tune to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's TV show in the US of the same name. On top of that, track House On Fire has featured on legendary US comedy Friends, The OC and the soundtrack for movie Batman And Robin - more importantly, they've even been played on the caff stereo in EastEnders...
But the past is merely an extra super-powered spring for the turbocharged launchpad that is Arkarna's crowd-pleasing new long player.
A bold, cerebral but ultimately rump-moving melange of beat-stoked, tune-drenched, emotionally-charged songs, the new album may be seen by some as their comeback, but in many ways, it sees Arkarna wiping the slate clean, whilst not alienating their vast existing fanbase in Southeast Asia and Australia.
Not only that, the catchy-as-swine-flu debut single from their new album has been mastered by the legendary Chris Gehringer from Sterling Sound, who's recently polished releases from the likes of Yeasayer, Rihanna, La Roux, Keisha and 3Oh!3.
And that's before you even consider the video, which has been directed by promo geniuses DuckEye, who've previous made videos for the likes of The Fallout Trust, Zero 7, Sigur Ros, and Clayhill - and, without giving too much away, it's set to be a fruity worldwide internet sensation...
But back to the new album, and with a public appetite voracious for the likes of Pendulum and Muse, Arkarna's unique take on cinematic, BPM-savvy, electronic, stadium-friendly rock with killer melodies is perfectly timed to explode onto the dancefloors, festivals and arenas across the globe - as Matt explains, "We fall into and cross so many of the genres that are really popular now, but we've still got our own thing going on, we always have. We've got to be true to our sound."
Matt elaborates: "The Arkarna sound is so distinct - no-one sounds like us. We've always thought it was important to incorporate a lot of musical flavours from the old stuff, especially, the dance elements, but time moves on and music progresses, it evolves, so it's important that you evolve with it. And that's what we've done."
Ollie adds, pertinently: "I think it's what naturally comes out and we sound completely different to anyone else - we're not a copy. It's got history behind it, but it's organic and not contrived. And it gets asses on the dancefloor!"
And what of those lyrics?
Ollie explains: "They're just about what's going on inside my head, quite insular. They work on different levels though - I like people to take their own meanings from them. Sometimes they're not meant to make sense. But yes, a lot of them are about love, because it's one of those things you can't help writing about because it hurts like a physical thing sometimes and everyone can relate to it."
Matt gives us an extra insight: "A lot of it is beneath the surface, you can't take them at face value, they're more cerebral and intelligent, you have to read into them. It's not just cliches - they're more arty, less literal, more abstract. But they're all from experience."
Preparations are already underway for the Arkarna live onslaught - for which we can only warn you to limber up or face serious injury. As well as a full-on, aural assault with a full live band, Matt and Ollie are also rehearsing their new set acoustically.
Matt elaborates: "It will be quite a big surprise the acoustic stuff, as we're making it completely unique. When it sounds as strong as it does acoustically, it's going to blow everyone away with the full band. You can hide behind so much when it's electronic. It's the meaning of the song and the tunes that ultimately carry it and make it a success."
But whether you're experiencing them acoustically, with the full-on live experience or via the new album, all we can say is, get ready for the kind of musical therapy that only Arkarna can provide. Everybody needs it... Read more...
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