Formed in 2008 as a six-piece all-Irish group, the Balkan Alien Sound has evolved into Basork, a ten piece fusion group influenced by Irish, European and Middle Eastern sounds.
The band came to fruition during co-founder Marty Coyle’s tenure as Musician-In-Residence at the Nerve Centre, and in June they released their debut album, The Balkan Alien Orchestra.
Combining strings, woodwind and brass, the group pull influences from many genres, creating their own unique sound, a high tempo genre crossing celebration with lots of improv.
Bouzouki player Marty Coyle told us about how the change came about: “Listening to the ideas that we've been having in terms of writing over the last couple of years, I guess, what we were hearing in our heads was a much bigger sound than what a four or five piece band could offer” said Marty.
“Evolving into a mini orchestra was a service to the tunes we were writing. Obviously the size of the band now has brought a whole new dynamic and sonic shift in what we do. It's half brass and half strings which gives a really diverse palette to work from in terms of composition.
“The residency was the perfect vehicle to kickstart what was, in essence, an idea, into a real working project. It gave us structure and deadlines to work to and also the opportunity to work with other artists such as David Lyttle, who was last year’s Musician In Residence, as well as resources for rehearsal and recording. The year let us explore the possibilities of composition for the ensemble and I believe has set us up in a way of working that we will continue to use in the future” said Marty.
Marty explained where the idea for the larger group came from: “We met a band in Warsaw while we were on tour in Poland called Banda Nella Nebbia, who were a 10 piece balkan brass punk band. That kind of put the seed in my head that setting up something of this size could be viable and more to the point enjoyable. Meeting people from around the world and sharing ideas has always been a major influence on anything we do musically. I think when we got home from our Polish tour, the seeds of Basork may have been planted.”
And with more members now bringing their own individual influences to the group, Marty explained how it opens up a whole world of musical possibilities: “The more influences the better” said Marty.
“There's everything from trad, folk, marching band, jazz, funk, punk and classical in there. We definitely have a unique sound which is developing as time goes on and we're already writing for our next release with more members getting involved in the composition process.”
And more band members also brings more challenges. “Ten members who have families, work commitments and other musical projects on the go, so yes, it's logistical madness” laughed Marty. “But it's worth it. When we do get together we have to be on it so making use of our time together is paramount.
“It's quite an exciting project to be involved in though and our sound is evolving during each performance. I want to allow every member to freely musically express themselves and seeing the band enjoy themselves on stage is worth the effort of having such a large set up.”
BASORK - BALK N FUNK
The band released their debut record with an official launch party in June at the Nerve Centre. Marty finished his year-long residency with a showcase gig bringing together a number of local and international musicians and those who collaborated on the album.
“The album launch was a fantastic evening as we got to perform the record in it's entirety and affirm Basork as an actual working ban” said Marty. “That was actually our first real gig. Beforehand we had been either in rehearsal or recording and bringing the project to fruition felt great.
“It feels great to have it done and out there and really nice to have it on vinyl. Performing it is where it's really at for me though. That's where we really get to experience and explore the tunes and take them different directions.”
The local musician also told us about another gig this year which left a lasting impression with the band. “There was one gig we did in Dublin in July that had a real magic feel to it” revealed Marty.
“It was to a packed house in Sin E. As we were a new group and relatively unknown we certainly weren't expecting the reaction we got from such an international audience. It underlined the fact that our music has got that international appeal and it was great to see people dancing to tunes from our new record. If people are dancing then we've done our job.”
Now as 2017 turns it’s final few pages, Basork turn their attentions to 2018. “We've been spending the last few months composing for the next record and trying to get our summer festivals organised for 2018” revealed Marty.
“We already have some nice spots secured for larger festivals in Ireland throughout 2018 so the more we can add to the roster the better. We have some very special surprise guests joining the band during the Derry Jazz Festival next year also which we'll be announcing soon. It's going to be a fantastic evening.”
With so many incredible local acts on the scene at the moment, it’s a great opportunity show your support by giving the gift of local music this year. You can purchase merchandise from Basork via their official website and bandcamp. Be sure to check their Facebook too! Don't forget to enter our competition here, where you have a chance of winning a host of merchandise from all the acts involved in the campaign.