artwork by Márcio Matos
Festa no Musicbox na baixa lisboeta.
Party at Musicbox in downtown Lisbon.
Words by: Alexander Julin Mortensen
Niagara “Apologia” (Principe Discos)
Trioen Niagara vendte i 2018 tilbage med deres fjerde udspil på portugisiske Príncipe i form af debutalbummet “Apologia”. Albummet – og gruppens musikalske udtryk som sådan – fremstår uden tvivl hjemme på det portugisiske pladeselskab, men adskiller sig fra majoriteten af de mere dansable udgivelser ved i højere grad at dyrke en mere sumpet og semi-psykedelisk musik. Det er det ideelle medium til at fortrænge den bidende kulde og nivellerende gråvejr, da “Apologia” snarere lyder som feberdrømme og hallucinationer, der udspiller sig i hjertet af en imaginær urskov. Et både ekstremt fængende og sært forstyrrende værk.
Words by: Henry Bruce-Jones
DJ Narciso & Nuno Beats
‘Hino RS’ is the standout track from DJ Narciso & Nuno Beats’s excellent debut, Bagdad Style, capturing both the exuberance and the tension that characterizes their sound. Reverb-heavy chords and deep kuduro rhythms are suddenly interrupted by a creeping synthline that momentarily brings the track to a halt, striking an elegant balance between euphoria and anxiety. They might be the newest members of the Príncipe family but this puts the crew up there with the label’s best.
Words by: Alexander Julin Mortensen
Príncipe has been one of the most prominent labels challenging dominant (Western) norms of dance music by putting out, among other genres, kuduro and batida affiliated electronic music from what seems like a growing number of promising Portuguese producers. “Bagdad Style”, the first EP from the RS Produções crew, is yet another example.
RS Produções began in 2014 and counts producers and DJ’s Narciso, Nuno, Nulo, Lima, Farucox and the MC Pimenta as its members. Consisting of eight tracks, “Bagdad Style” presents the music of DJ Narciso and Nuno Beats, boths respectively and in collaboration with each other. These are some of the more sparse, stripped-down productions to come out via Príncipe and therefore more similar to the minimalistic productions of DJ Nervoso’s 2016-release on the label than the more voluminous, warm and melodic releases such as this year’s “Paz & Amor” by DJ Lilocox or last year’s “Sonhos & Pesadelos” by DJ Lycox.
A track such as “Abertura” is characterised by its hypnotizing melody, constantly and minimally repeating throughout its running time. The melody strikes one as the dominant element, although a playful percussion-beat and simplistic string sample also remains present to the listener throughout the track, adding additional liveliness to it. Melodically and emotionally it is similar to a track such as “Karma” from this year’s “Cranio” by DJ Nigga Fox, without ever tending towards the controlled chaos that characterises a lot of Nigga Fox’ as well as other Príncipe-affiliated artists’ work.
Instead “Abertura” is representative of the overall sound on “Bagdad Style” in the sense that it sounds stripped to the core, applying a minimal amount of musical elements in order to impose a sense of quirky euphoria. Culminating in the closing track “Hino RS”, “Bagdad Style” is filled with musical finesse and creativity, but most strikingly a contagious energy.
However, there is a sort of feature to the music – or maybe more correctly its relation to the space within which it unfolds – which demands the listener’s attention not only towards the energy and mood it invokes, but also towards the movement by which it takes form and its sound as such. The compositions are never completely filled and dense with sound, but always leave a certain space for pauses, breaks and glimpses of an ever present background of silence, and this enhances the clarity of every single musical component. This relation between sound and silence thus helps the listener to equally appreciate the compositional and aesthetics ideas manifested in the music as well as its emotional impact.
Words by: RA Staff
The common theme of DJ Lilocox’s first full record was rhythm. It’s something the Portuguese artist and his Príncipe peers do exceedingly well, and much of Paz & Amor’s appeal lay in its nuanced batida drum patterns. But on “Fronteiras,” Lilocox added considerable emotional weight, with gentle chords that summoned an evocative late-night mood.
Words by: Gary Suarez
6. P. Adrix
Álbum Desconhecido (Principe Discos)
Though currently residing in Manchester, P. Adrix grew up in Lisbon. That exposure to the experimental techno-kuduro hybrids of his homeland makes him an ideal ambassador of the sound to the U.K. Built into his amusingly chaotic debut are tricky tempos and gripping polyrhythms, laid bare on the deceptively minimal banger “Abertura Da Roda” and the caustic window wash “Tejo.” Like so much of what the stellar Principe puts into the world, Álbum Desconhecido is an admittedly demanding but profoundly rewarding listen, its discordant tendencies a sieve to sift out those whose ears and hips can’t hang. Adrix’s approach occasionally blends batida with more distinctly British sounds, particularly those of the region’s fruitful bass and grime scenes. “Viva La Raça” spends its first half building like a Skepta instrumental before launching Afro-Portuguese percussive elements into the mix. A broken lullaby of twinkling jazz, “Sonhos” snaps to grid around its mellifluous melody.