Purveyors of enigmatic dreamscapes and organic, danceable electronica, Leeds-based, electronic-soul quartet Noya Rao have blown us away with their debut album Icaros, released on Matthew Halsall’s Gondwana Records at the end of last year.
Founded by producer Tom Henry, Noya Rao was originally conceived as a solo project with a separate live band representation. Alongside bassist Jim Wiltshire and drummer Matt Davies, the project grew to become a collaborative effort mixing Tom’s production ideas with the attributes of Jim’s unique bass synth lines and Matt’s polyrhythmic beats. Their compositions drew on the influences of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music whilst incorporating the sounds of the bass-heavy-dub music synonymous with the Leeds music scene.
Their sound really came into focus when they met vocalist Olivia Bhattacharjee who brought her gospel style and complex choral harmony to the band. Developing from raw, psychedelic improvisations, their sound became more defined and minimal, underpinned by live instrumentation and more structured song writing. This co-existing electronic and organic thread gives the band a strong identity and their powerful live show sets them apart from other producer-led bands. Matthew Halsall from Gondwana Records saw the band perform at an intimate show in Manchester in 2016 and blown away, signed the band on the spot.