An infectious infusion of Eastern melodies and sultry London beats, Forty Thieves Orkestar create a unique sound both on record and at their vibrant gigs. Their influences range from Balkan Gypsy music, Klezmer, and belly dancing music, to hip hop, King Tubby style reggae and abstract filmic soundscapes. Brass, clarinet, violins, accordion, oud and percussion interweave with earthy samples, crisp beats, evocative atmospherics, and studio trickery.
The project started back in early 2003, with founding thief Aidan Love experimenting with various samples and melodic ideas. The first track, Beirut Express, came about in a very instinctive way with its rich mixture of belly dance grooves, Arabian melodies, club beats and quirky/warm sonics.
Around that time he went to several Klezmer gigs and also saw the amazing Romanian Gypsy band; Taraf de Haidouks. It was at this point that he realised how important it would be to collaborate with musicians who could bring the project to life. The first to become involved was clarinet maestro Idris Rahman and after an initial two -hour session the forty thieves sound was transformed by his virtuoso but gritty playing. After subsequent sessions with Joe Townsend (jazz/gypsy violin specialist) and Martin Green (accordion) the first batch of four tracks came to fruition.
Sporadic writing sessions over late 2003 and early 2004 led to further developments and around this time the track ‘Big Belly Beat’ was used in the soundtrack of the Disney remake of ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’. The summer of 2004 also saw tentative forays into live performance – initially just using a CD backing track. This was developed significantly after Aidan’s experiences of live programming for Belgian pop star Axelle Red. A laptop was purchased and the Orkestar’s live sound started to take shape. Gigs with between three and seven thieves were undertaken around London. By early 2005 some fifteen or so tracks were jostling for inclusion on an album and the ripest eleven of these were polished up to completion. June 2005 saw the Orkestar play the Lost Vagueness stage at Glastonbury festival.
The First album was initially released as a limited edition on Aidan’s own label; Crafty Music, in late 2005. Shortly after this African music specialists Sterns decided to distribute a re-released version in Europe and America. 2006 and 2007 saw the band grow and develop; new musicians pushed the live act into a more exciting shape, and the first experiments were made with vocal tracks. Bigger festivals (Bestival, Lovebox, the World/Jazz stage at Glastonbury) followed culminating in a support slot on a UK tour with the legendary Taraf de Haidouks in late 2007. This period also saw the writing of most of the material for the second album.
The second album grew steadily during 2008 with the addition of some exciting collaborations. Vocals were added and the Hungarian Cymbalom maestro Balasz Unger contributed some vital overdubs. By early 2009 the mixes were completed. Later that year German label Enja expressed an interest in releasing an EP and later they decided to release the whole second album.