French-Ecuadorian DJ Nicola Cruz recently prepared us for his new album Siku by dropping “Siete,” a decorous folktronica track that experiments with winding sitar melodies. Now, he’s offering another taste of the forthcoming release, this time by premiering “Arka,” a wispy production that puts the work of Argentine flautist Esteban Valdivia front and center.
“Siete” indicated that Cruz would be testing out new global influences and finding the connections between Andean rhythms and other cultures on his latest album. “Arka” is just as experimental as its predecessor, but perhaps more understated compared to some of Cruz’s colorful creations from the past. Cruz shows restraint, staying away from intricate electronic flourishes in order to clear the way for Valdivia’s deep and vast flute melodies.
“Esteban’s tremendous work keeping Andean music alive has been a great inspiration for me. He converges with my contemporary music ideas in which experimentation, harmonic clashes and dissonance are key factors,” Cruz said in a statement. “Performing under altered states of consciousness (or seeking them out through performance) helps create a clear connection between the terrestrial and the transcendental, delivering the body as a means at the service of the music.”
The feeling of an “altered state of consciousness” may have also had to do with how the track was made—Cruz reveals that he recorded it inside the Ilaló, an extinct volcano located just outside of Quito. A sense of the natural world is often reflected in Cruz’s music, and he shares that he wanted “Arka” to communicate a connection to fire rituals.
“Arka alludes to fire, a dual ritual that represents once again the practice of the ‘siku’, a dialogue between the ‘Ira’ and the ‘Arka’, two parts that make up the same musical instrument,’” he said.
Siku drops on Jan. 25 via ZZKRecords.