P010 – NIAGARA – Ímpar
Vinyl 12″ / Digital
Written and produced by Niagara;
Mastered by Tó Pinheiro da Silva, Artwork by Márcio Matos;
Released June, 2015;
VINYL/DIGITAL: Order from us
A1 – Arruda
A2 – Abacaxi Limão
B1 – Legume
B2 – Cheetah
B3 – Alagarta
A couple of years have passed and a ton of material has been amassed after the sold out “Ouro Oeste EP”. It’s a given fact from the very beginning that Niagara are a prolific bunch. From their HQ to the north of Lisbon, the trio puts together some of the most organically synthetic house music we hear these days. May sound like a contradiction but bear in mind practically everything you hear on this EP is played live (including a most charismatic electric bass). Even the final mix is done live.
“Arruda” has an infectious vocal snippet leading procedures, morphing from an indistinguishable bleep into a recognizable voice. Discreet and stylish use of string sounds and tambourine, a bassline made up of a repeated “acid” pattern plus the usual chunky midtempo signature beat. “Arruda” happens to be the surname of brothers Alberto and Antonio, joined in Niagara by Sara Eckerson;
“Abacaxi Limão” introduces live bass as the anchor of the whole groove, wild background percussion, and those chunky chunky beats add a robotic step. By now it’s quite clear how Niagara sound like;
“Legume” opens side B with a small burst of distortion. Then it’s all about the interplay between the deepest bass and playful keys. Everything becomes more spacey and pastoral on the second half, culminating with a flute comedown;
“Cheetah” sounds like a lost Chicago classic, never giving in to smoothness. It’s familiar but also hard to pinpoint. Major contribution to the hypnosis induced by these moderately slow but hard-stepping beats;
“Alagarta” shoots out with a million rays of sunlight in a joyous manifestation of happiness on the dancefloor, though it is far from being the typical functional dance track. It’s here that the live production ethics of Niagara are clearly perceptible and we can’t help but show a broad smile when the cascade of bleeps leads to the conclusion. Complex, glorious shit.
Vinyl 12″ individually hand-painted, hand-stamped.
“Arruda”, “Abacaxi Limão”, “Legume”, “Cheetah” e “Alagarta”. Cinco momentos de luz branca que apontam para o futuro e para o passado ao mesmo tempo. Niagara é uma cascata de sons que se precipita sobre a pista de dança a partir da história do house. Niagara é, obviamente, o resultado do estudo atento das dinâmicas de um género fulcral na história da música do século XX e que obviamente também se tem vindo a transmutar, assegurando a sua vitalidade neste novo século. E “Arruda” é aqui provavelmente o mais claro gesto de vénia a esse passado do house, com o sample de voz a posicionar-nos algures entre Chicago e Nova Iorque, que é, precisamente, onde fica “Arruda” se em Arruda existir um estúdio equipado com 808s e 909s e 303s e Junos e Yamahas prontos a embarcar numa viagem que pode nascer no passado, mas tem definitivamente o futuro como destino último. O baixo e as percussões de “Abacaxi Limão” deslocam um pouco a acção: Nova Iorque ainda, mas com Kid Creole a dirigir a orquestra da cantina de Star Wars. “Legume” começa com um queixume digital, ruído que se esmaga debaixo de um kick quadrado que antecipa a chegada de um pad anos 90 que não soa totalmente resolvido e que por isso nos dá a ideia de que continuamos a ouvir house, sim, mas num sonho – som de pista ainda, mas estamos todos a flutuar e a tocar nas estrelas. “Cheetah”, como o nome indica, é urgência: tão urgente que o tema soa como se os Niagara tivessem cozinhado uma música de nove minutos, mas aproveitado para a prensagem em vinil apenas os quatro minutos finais – o tema chega aos nossos ouvidos já avançado, com ecos distantes de electro escola Jonzun Crew a libertarem os Space Invaders que existem dentro de nós. O EP fecha com um extraordinário “Alagarta” que é funk distorcido numa bola de espelhos, Dâm-Funk a brincar no estúdio de Derrick May, com claps tortos e synths em overdrive.
Entre o sonho e a realidade, entre o funk e o techno, entre o house e a experimentação, entre Nova Iorque e Chicago e Detroit e Arruda, entre a Terra e o espaço, entre o groove e o silêncio: multiplicar as referências é reconhecer a dificuldade de posicionar os Niagara que pegam no house, invertem o seu sentido de pista e chamam-lhe qualquer coisa poética. Como Ímpar.
Rimas E Batidas, Maio 2015
Niagara quase funcionam como um laboratório onde são testadas novas soluções para música de dança e, ao mesmo tempo, comprovadas algumas já bem credibilizadas no passado. No equilíbrio entre o peso da inescapável herança house e disco e a força pesquisadora na natureza dos irmãos Arruda e Sara Eckerson está o som distinto de Niagara. O “groove que nunca pára” entra logo em “Arruda”, a primeira faixa, com um corte vocal que começa por soar como teclado; “Abacaxi Limão” coloca bem à frente um baixo que passa logo a ser Niagara a partir do primeiro acorde; baixo, também, marca o passo em “Legume”, abrindo-se alguns curtos abismos de silêncio para a faixa poder subir para um som de flauta que logo faz magia; “Cheetah” acontece todo o tempo em cascata, provocando a desconcertante mas boa sensação de se estar constantemente a desagregar – e como a música neste EP é, em grande parte, gravada ao vivo, a sensação de realidade é grande aqui; depois chega “Alagarta”, quanto a nós no topo de uma pirâmide de personalidade Niagara. Nesta faixa somos servidos com uma visão absolutamente iluminada de como a música de dança parece ter sido criada com o Universo. “Alagarta” contém tantos nutrientes que quase arriscamos o delírio. Que final.
Flur, Maio 2015
Niagara returns with a brand new EP entitled Impar via Lisbon-based Principe crew. Opening with ‘Arruda’, the esoteric and perplexing sonic landscape is brought to life once again. Snowballing beats, club-facing synths and off-kilter vocal samples that won’t be heard in any other micro-scene. Everything on this entire release is played live… including the final mix. It gives every track a dimension of rough and uncut energy that is present among a lot of the output from the Principe crew. Their last release, Ouro Oeste EP was a sellout and when Ímpar reaches its climax it is no surprise why. Niagara look set to become one of the most singular and inimitable forces in Lisbon’s electronic explosion.
Bleep, May 2015
Lisbon’s Niagara are outliers on their hometown’s Príncipe Discos, a label that made its name with the kinetic rhythms of DJ Marfox, DJ Nigga Fox, and other artists taking Afro-Portuguese styles into the far future. The trio makes house music, more or less—but an odd, bumptious, off-the-cuff version that’s a long way from the genre’s current mainstream profile. Niagara apparently records its songs live, and it certainly sounds like it; they’re lively and lumpy in equal measure, banged out with gusto.
Where Marfox and his protégés twist wildly syncopated rhythms into mind-bending shapes, the bass line for Niagara’s “Abacaxi Limão” references different kinds of contortions, or, rather, Contortions. The fat, gnarled electric bass comes straight from the James Chance rulebook, and the flayed hi-hat groove suggests the same sort of mutant disco. But where too many ZE homages get tripped up by their devotion to a sound that was defined, in part, by its very refusal to be tied down, Niagara borrow mutant disco’s tropes and proceed to bend them to their own wishes. (The title “Abacaxi Limão” translates as “Pineapple Lemon”, by the way, but I detect notes of black pepper and Pop Rocks.)
A dubby guitar chord drifts beatifically in the background; a burst of feedback imitates an airplane engine; a conga rattles away, the percussionist’s relationship with strict timekeeping left strictly non-monogamous. Somewhere in all that din, there’s chirping that might be actual birds, or maybe just a machine that wants to be a bird. The electric bass stubbornly digs in its heels while everything else threatens to fly apart like a tool shed in a tornado.
Pitchfork, June 2015
This is funky repetitive music. It’s mutant disco, punchy and raw, with a darker edge than your run of the mill house music. At times there’s almost a punk funk feel, with a minimal, almost aggressive DIY approach. The edges aren’t as rounded as you’d expect and there’s an urgency lurking within the 4/4 beats. It’s also brimming with unexpected moments of experimental weirdness, like the music is trying to force itself through the rudimentary ingredients. You ask yourself questions that you normally wouldn’t, like are they birds or a synthesizer? The jammy nature gives it both a feeling of momentum and immediacy, which is almost non existent in house music. Who knew house music could be this raw, this urgent, this amazing?
Cyclic Defrost, June 2015
Fans of raw house and bizarro disco will love this one. “Impar” sounds like what legendary Disco-Punk bands like ESG or Optimo might be doing if they were in their 20’s living in Portugal right now. An absolutely essential release!
Music Is My Sanctuary, June 2015
More hot rhythms from the streets and bedrooms of Lisbon. Portuguese label Principe have slowly been building their own unique scene – stylistically a million miles away from grime, footwork or kwaito but occupying the same mind set; kids with limited funds carving out their own regional identity through electronic based music. The EP boasts a very live feel – probably because pretty much every element recorded and mixed live – quite a feat when you consider the crazed sonic vibrations taking place throughout the record! “Arruda” contrasts gritty, squelching synth swells with a chopped and pitched vocal rhythm – the key ident in this new, emerging blueprint. “Abacaxi Limão” comes tumbling in with heavily reverberated live drums, crashing around while a big slap bass pumps away intermittently. The kind of odd-ball, disco-not-disco jam you might find the Gilmmers, Optimo or Idjut’s bending people’s mind with mid set. Most excellent. “Legume” is a squashed, soundsystem growler, with some of the most out-there sounds featured on the whole EP. It’s still gonna work on’t floor though, and that tight but funky little keyboard lick should keep you locked while a whole manner of craziness unfolds around you. “Cheetah”‘s a noisy bugger, distorted, cascading synth shards shattering across a glassy floor while a buzzing bass tried to keep order. Chaotic, intoxicating…. good! “Alagarta” tops things off with, to my ears, what appears to be like a Portuguese homage to all the bedroom boogie sounds pioneered by PPU and Benny Badge. Lo-fi analogue synths all rubbing up against dusty drum boxes and a skewed, if forward propelled rhythm. Absolutely storming stuff from this Lisbon native, sure to be destined for great things in this post-everything world we live in. I have to say I’m surprised Kieran Hebden hasn’t coerced him into a collaboration yet!
Piccadilly Records, June 2015
Fresh off impressing with the fine double drop on Charles Drakeford’s emergent From The Depths label, Portuguese trio Niagara land back on home turf with an excellent new 12″ for Lisbon crew Principe. Formed of Sara Eckerson and brotherly pair Antonio and Alberto Arruda, the Loures-based Niagara bring a sense of organic unpredictability to Principe, with almost every element of the music on impar performed live. There’s a great diversity to their sound too, with the rush inducing house vibrancy of opener “Arruda” complemented by the low slung “Abacaxi Limao” which is essentially an Iberian take on Weatherall-style dub disco. On the flip “Legume” wouldn’t sound out of place in a Mood Hut DJ set, whilst “Cheetah” impresses thanks to the deep sub bass, glistening keys and bristling hi hats. A superb 12″.
Juno, June 2015
Ruddy raw and psychoactive house charmers from the mighty Principe. Niagara employs a more direct dancefloor template than most of his Portugese label peers, and the effect is deadly. Played live, and retaining that feral quality that has made this label so addictive, Niagara configures 6 tracks ranging from infected and dripping Lil Louis vibes on ‘Arruda’ to the cascading, synth-heavy hooks on ‘Cheetah’, before signing off with ‘Alagarta’ like some heat-infected Mr Oizo at his deadliest. Strong stuff from this increasingly impressive label.
Boomkat, June 2015