Nørbak is releasing his well anticipated LP Flesh to Ashes, at the end of January 2021, on Oscar Mulero’s imprint Warm Up Recordings. The young Portuguese producer has been developing his sound since an early age and already saw releases on established labels such as PoleGroup, Semantica, Modularz, Affin and Float Records, to name but a few. Nørbak’s sound explorations go from the ethereal ambient realms, to experimental breaks, all the way to the physical side of Techno, as he calls it, where the artist finds his most zeal.
Known for his precision and deep sound, the Portuguese talent delivers a distant cosmic soundscape with his first album, going beyond the boundaries of current repressions. The LP Flesh To Ashes gravitates between beatless cuts, broken beats, profound sonic exercises and virtual dancefloor weapons, from unknown planets. The album comes out on 29/01/2021 on Vinyl and Digital, with Camera being the bonus track in the digital version (see full tracklist below). For your listening pleasure, MNMT premieres the ominous track Interference Of Authority.
In this conversation, Nørbak shares with us a hopeful vision for the future of music, his production process, what inspires him to push his sound further and his work with the collective HAYES, elevating the techno scene in Portugal and beyond.
Congrats on your album release! How did you conceive the idea about your first LP? What was the production process like, in the current challenging context of the music scene?
First of all, thank you so much for the interview! This LP was done precisely a year ago, after Oscar invited me to release my first album on Warm Up Recordings in August 2019. I always wanted to do an album and already had some ideas for it, but I was waiting for the right time to come. This was the best opportunity I could have ever imagined. The concept behind the album was very simple to me from the start – a journey through some of my periods as an artist, showing the deeper side, the experimental side, the more physical side, while giving some hints on what’s to come in the future. I believe an album should mark the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one.
The production process didn’t change much for this release, my music is done 100% on my computer. For this LP I just tried some new techniques, such as manipulating the sound source with lots of effects. This album doesn’t lay heavily on synthesis (although I’ve done some, on a couple of tracks), rather more on using simple elements, such as toms, and changing them in a way that they are pretty much unrecognizable.
This is your second release on the label Warm Up Recordings, run by Oscar Mulero. How did you get involved in working with him and are you excited to continue your collaboration?
I got to speak briefly with Oscar for the first time after he played my track “Hara”, released on Affin, 3 years ago. A year after this, I released an EP on Dynamic Reflection and played a lot of tracks from that EP, so we started talking about the possibility of a release on Warm Up, and eventually it happened. I released the EP “Faktor”, two years ago on Warm Up Recordings. We kept on talking and exchanging music, and one day I sent him a huge pack of unreleased stuff, I was doing at the time. He suggested this idea for an album and of course I said yes, feeling very grateful for the opportunity.
And yes, I’m super excited about what’s to come in the future. Oscar has been supporting my work a lot and this collaboration will continue in the upcoming years, I’m sure. I have a huge amount of respect for him.
The LP is coming out as we are deep down in Lockdown, vol. 2 and the dawn of 2021, holding the torch of hope for a new normal. Your album sounds like an avid journey through absolute big room stompers and a delicate, sonic exploration of beatless cuts. Which side of the techno odyssey are you enjoying more and want to delve into next?
It’s hard to say which style I enjoy more, since I’m constantly doing different stuff and I like every single style I do. The album reflects that, I think it varies with my state of mind really. This year, after the album, I will focus more on the physical side of things and already have a couple of releases scheduled, reflecting very well what I mean by this. My sound is evolving and I’m very happy with the direction I’m taking.
The track premiering on MNMT is called Interference of Authority – quite dark, ominous and powerful. I really hope to hear it in a club setting soon. How would you describe it? Was the title inspired by the social upheavals?
It’s always hard to describe a track I made but I would say your description is on point, really! I always had this naive anti-police way of thinking. To be honest, I can’t really explain it but the title came to my mind because of some recent events around the world, which involved police forces and the lack of respect they sometimes have towards law abiding citizens.
The names of the tracks (Genese, Land of Sin, Third Morality, Collective Disbelief) are reflecting on many layers of societal structuring and provoke a needed reimagining of everything we are told to repress. Especially the title of the LP Flesh to Ashes speaks to me a desire for rebirth and a reset. Do you propose a new way of viewing morality, beyond our basic binary understandings of good vs. evil? What is the Third Morality?
Great question and great way of putting things. Track titles don’t really need to be always connected with the music itself. They are a nice way to express a point of view, beliefs or criticism the artist might have towards the world, and I did that with the titles for my album. The Third Morality, in specific, came to my mind because of a book by Gerald Heard, that I was reading at the time, which focuses on a man who “had three main moralities, three general ideas of conduct based on the three world-pictures he has so far made.”. An inspiring read for sure.
As artists you look up to, you mention Jonas Kopp, Regis, Reeko. What or who else inspires you musically?
Outside techno, a lot of music inspires me, mainly movie soundtracks and a couple of bands and artists who I follow. At the moment many new talents inspire me to keep pushing my sound as far as I can. Some of these artists are Divide, Oisel and Quelza, for example. As I said before, the future is in good hands and a lot of good music is coming out, despite the weird times we live in, both musically and socially. Besides music, there are simple things that inspire me – movies, books (I don’t actually read much but when I do, I get easily moved), conversations with friends or special moments I’ve witnessed.
Do you see yourself staying in Portugal, where you are based, and working on developing the Techno scene there? Could you say more about the Hayes project?
I’m pretty sure I will stay in Portugal for many years, I like it here. It’s calm and quiet and there is work to be done here still. That’s why it gives me so much joy to run the HAYES label with my fellow mates VIL, Autrane, CRAVO, Enkō and Temudo. We really put a lot of effort in establishing a Portuguese techno scene, releasing music from new Portuguese talents such as Fresko and VHS.
We make some showcases around the country and offer something new artistically, with music and art that embodies our vision. The future’s looking bright and we will keep pushing things. We really love what we do and we want to make Portugal a landmark in the European techno scene.
Besides that, many exciting things are happening with our label – some very interesting artists will make their debut on Hayes, all of the team (VIL, CRAVO, Enkō, Autrane, Temudo and myself) will release their own solo EP on the label. Additionally, we will finally release a new Vinyl, a VA with some of the core members. Of course, I would also like to tour again and share my music with the world. I’m afraid it will take a few more months but that’s ok, I can wait a bit more. I’m 100% sure that 2021 will be better than 2020 in all aspects.
The bonus digital track on your album is called Camera – a very obscure, engulfing, cinematic piece. Definitely relates to the space odyssey you depict with this album. I find that taking pictures currently is slightly difficult, because of the repetitive scenery we are faced with. At the same time, it is motivating to look at things in a new way and seek capture-worthy moments in the mundane. What currently grabs your attention and refreshens your creative lenses?
Thank you for the nice words about that track. It might not seem like it but a lot of processing and work went into this track, so it’s nice to see someone taking the time to appreciate it. Recently, I’ve been getting slowly into photography and that inspires me a lot, because I like to learn new things and accept new challenges. I’d say music is still my main source of inspiration. Lately, I’ve been listening to some music from Rolly Porter, Burial, Telefon Tel Aviv, The Soft Moon and Colin Stetson, for example. Great music from all of them, they all inspire me despite being different genres. Also there are many movies that affect my creativity, for example “Possessor”.
What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Firstly, the album release. I hope everyone enjoys it, as much as I did making it. I will also have some releases coming out after this – a very special collaboration EP with Pfirter, my return to Soma Records, and a couple of more releases that I can’t talk about just yet.
Make sure to listen to Nørbak’s podcast for Monument and follow the artist on his Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud pages, to keep up with his upcoming projects and releases.
Artist Name: Nørbak
Release Name: Flesh To Ashes LP
A3. Deductible Ethic
B1. Collective Disbelief
B2. Rune Value
C1. Flesh To Ashes
C2. Interference Of Authority
D1. Land Of Sin
D2. The Third Morality
3. Deductible Ethic
4. Collective Disbelief
5. Rune Value
6. Flesh To Ashes
7. Interference Of Authority
8. Land Of Sin
9. The Third Morality