JOON – Orqod


According to a survey conducted by the European Commission the UK is officially the worst nation in Europe for learning second languages, with over 60% of brits speaking English and only English. I’m not being snobbish here – I don’t even have a GCSE in Modern Foreign Languages – I bring this up to emphasise that I never feel more culturally blinkered than when listening to songs with lyrics in languages other than English. Maltese producer JOON’s latest release Orqod is one such song.

Orqod – which means Sleep in Maltese, by the way (thank you, google) – is a cavernous song. A lonely bass guitar echoes from its boundless depths and even the lead vocals feel small in the face of the empty spaces. The enormous reverb all but smothers the bass melody that anchors the song, and what a melody it is. It tiptoes through an elegant one-two-three, one-two-three waltz that persists throughout Orqod’s runtime, forever counting out the steps to a dance that nobody is around to follow. This is a song that remembers the intimacy and aesthetics of a slowdance, but what use is a slowdance in an empty and decaying ballroom? There are no partners in Orqod, JOON allows us only echoes and reflections.

The song is arguably a better listening experience to non-Maltese speakers*. Everything from its tinny lowfi synth lines to its weirdly impish pitch-shifted harmonies imply a world distant from our own. Against such a backdrop, lyrics in a language we understand would only be a distraction. On Orqod, JOON creates a powerful sense of the uncanny – a space that feels subtly warped and pulled out of shape. We can look, we can listen, but we cannot touch.

* – This is a stretch, but stay with me

Christopher R. Moore