Words by Bob Baker Fish
With the majority of releases on the Portuguese label Principe two words spring to mind immediately: ‘raw’, and ‘wonky.’ To this writer it’s incredible how you can apply these words so consistently to such diverse and consistently interesting music that comes from their roster. Their music is the street sound of outer Lisbon, an incredible fusion of traditional Angolan rhythms and current day electrics. Yet like all the more interesting music scenes, it seems to almost feed on itself, where inspiration comes internally, with the artists engaged in a healthy creative competition.
Normal Nada a.k.a. Qraqmaxter CiclOFF, a.k.a. Erre Mente is one of the more eccentric personalities to appear on the label, with Principe referring to his sound as ‘metakuduro’ and suggesting his approach is that of “a special kind of cosmogonical pirate exploring chemical balanced regimes of wake – sleep and the seductive dimensions between both.” So we’re dealing with a mystical kind of electronic dance music, and there’s no denying his unique, at times quirky compositional decisions. It’s great that the persona matches his approach to sound, which is consistently off kilter, yet also consistently inspired.
There’s repetition, and the very strange samples, yet there’s also a certain ironic playfulness. His electrics sound like birds on the EP closer Tarraxinha Da Calopsita v2 yet they’re pared with a gentle down-tempo kind of somberness that vaguely reminds me of DJ Shadow’s Midnight in A Perfect World, if it wasn’t so insistently annoying – which is kind’ve its charm.
Nubai (Wo lo lol) is remarkable though, and it’s impossible to draw any parallels to pretty much anything else. It must be the ‘metakuduro’ that Principe were talking about. It’s a weird stuttering, jerky track with a very odd time signature and a peculiar yet slightly catchy drawling vocal sample. Again it’s insistent, yet it’s also distinctive, a peculiar merging of ingredients that shouldn’t work together yet somehow do. It’s the kind of music that you shouldn’t listen to if operating heavy machinery.
Elsewhere his desire for experimentation continues unabated, from an industrial dirge pared with funky house to a wobbly sped up dubstep to a raw kind of mutant house, Normal Nada traverses a wide variety of styles and approaches on Transmutação Cerebral, marking him as a forward thinking if not eclectic producer who appears to be capable of anything.