P014 – DJ MARFOX – Chapa Quente
Vinyl 12″ / Digital
Written and produced by DJ Marfox;
Mastered by Tó Pinheiro da Silva, Artwork by Márcio Matos;
Released April, 2016;
VINYL/DIGITAL: Order from us
A1 – 2685
A2 – Unsound
A3 – Tarraxo Everyday
B1 – Kassumbula
B2 – Cobra Preta
B3 – B 18
Marfox and Príncipe have come a long and transformative way since his (and ours) debut with the appropriately titled EP “Eu Sei Quem Sou” in late 2011. The raw and more minimal sound of the producer’s formative years has mutated into a complex web of influences and new sounds. His scope has enlarged and yet Marfox retains the most crucial quality: he does not forget his roots.
You will notice differences in such tracks as “Unsound” (reflecting the festival in Poland where things really started to heat up), with its metallic harshness and even the bright, shiny, retro-futurist “Tarraxo Everyday”; also, “Kassumbula” and “Cobra Preta” both display a similar kind of sci-fi dissonace we can’t quite place our finger on.
Marfox’s musical evolution has been a staggering and beautiful process to behold. More skills bring more thrills and the overall feel of “Chapa Quente” is that of a perpetual chase scene on a New Lisbon constantly reorganized by the pull of different cultures, something that resonates with Marfox’s upbringing in the now demolished shantytown of Quinta da Vitória, where he came of age among neighbors who had emigrated from India, Pakistan, São Tomé e Príncipe or Cabo Verde, admittedly having informed his sound aesthetics and practice.
One stop only to catch some Sun (“Tarraxo Everyday”) but all the rest runs faster than you and us. Godspeed.
Vinyl 12″; individually hand-painted, hand-stamped copies available in Portugal only.
Much of the music released via Principe is rough ‘n’ ready. While still wildly frenetic, Marfox’s productions are more polished and pumped with soundsystemdominating kick than tracks made by his Portugese peers. ‘Quente’ opens with the snake-charmed ‘2985-2686’ and bursts into staunch drum workout ‘Unsound’. ‘Tarraxo Everyday’ is a beautiful rendering of the Angolan genre and a moment of 100bpm respite, before the tempo rises with the exhilarating ‘Kassumbula’ and ‘Cobra Preta’. It closes with ‘B 18’ and its perfect storm of percussion. Essential. 9/10
Mixmag, March 2016
“2685,” the lead single on DJ Marfox’s first EP in nearly two years, begins with a bright, buzzing synthesizer that’s not too far from the sound of “Terra Batida,” the triumphant opener on 2014’s Lucky Punch EP. Between that screaming lead and the rapid-fire four-on-the-floor kick drum that accompanies it, it briefly appears that we may have stumbled into a Lowlands rave, circa 1995—a long way from the slinky, Lusophone-disaporic batida sounds we’re accustomed to hearing from the Lisbon producer. Don’t be fooled by the fake-out, though, because we’re soon thrust into a polyrhythmic maelstrom as turbulent and as richly textured as anything he’s done to date.
The centerpiece of it all is a careening flute melody that surges up and down the scale, practically tripping over its own tail in the process. It sounds vaguely South Asian in origin—perhaps a callback to Marfox’s roots in Lisbon’s Quinta da Vitória, a former shantytown, now converted into cement government housing, where immigrants from São Tomé e Príncipe and Cabo Verde lived alongside Indians, Pakistanis, and Hindus from Mozambique. And then there are the drums: rolling, ricocheting, going full tilt—threading tightly knotted triplets through loosely woven syncopations, and answering low, clanging toms with the antic chatter of small, leathery hand drums. Toward the end of the track, a distant voice cries out as if across a vast chasm, and you can only agree; few songs feel more like being catapulted through the air at tremendous velocity.
Pitchfork, March 2016
Dizzyingly strong DJ Marfox gear marking a stellar return to Príncipe; the label he kicked off with his debut release, the Eu Sei Quem Sou EP back in 2011.
As the New Lisbon scene’s godfather, Marfox is responsible for inspiring and rallying a wave of thrilling, yung new producers from the city to grow their roots into a proudly unique dance sound that’s subsequently become coveted by DJs, dancers and labels far from their sunny ghetto.
In the best sense, we get the feeling that Príncipe have been biding their time for a new DJ Marfox release, and that foresight pays off dividends with the colourful, head-rush styles of Chapa Quente, which are given perfect context in the wake of amazing 12”s by Nidia Minaj, Normal Nada, and DJ Nigga Fox, et al.
From the ratchet flutes and spring-loaded battery of 2685 to the industrialised croak and galvanised percussion of Unsound – so titled after formative experience at the Polish festival – he allows a lush moment of romance with the slow and sweet Tarraxo Everyday but the energy levels are peaked again with the wavy Kassumbula and the tendon-sparking Cobra Preta, whilst the trickling marimba melody of B 18 pulls up his central and west African heritage and and a melting pot of syncretic influence soaked up from his origins in the now-demolished Quinta da Vitória shantytown. Highly recommended!
Boomkat, April 2016
Lisbon has flipped the beats you know the bird. Instead it’s pumping out the sounds of a long and torrid musical affair between Portugal and Angola. Since the early ‘90s batida is the sound: high bpm and highly syncopated, bonding house and techno with the complex rhythms of Africa. You may have heard a little bit of it since the turn of the millennium, through those few groups like Buraka Som Sistema, smuggling it out to the wider world. Largely, however, batida has stayed hidden -especially its harder, ghetto-fied versions- not for general consumption. Nonetheless, one label -Principe Discos- has been pushing it and many other unusual sounds around the world, to anyone who’ll listen, and at the top of their roster is DJ Marfox.
Marlon Silva, the man who is Marfox has been producing since the early 2000s and it’s been a long road to where he is now. Portugal is a country with serious ghettos: they’re racially, socio-economically, culturally and even geographically isolated from mainstream Portuguese society. It’s one of the considerable successes of Marfox and Principe that they’ve been able to negotiate a meeting between the insular ghetto music of Lisbon and a wider audience. More importantly, they’ve done it with the authenticity of the music and its community intact.
It’s meant the going has been slow -Marfox only released a record on Principe three years after originally hooking up with them- but steady, with a stream of EPs appearing over the years. 2014’s Lucky Punch had the biggest impact, leading to more press plaudits, remixing duties and attention from labels like Warp.
Marfox’s latest, Chapa Quente, or ‘hot plate’ bangs with little respite. Opener and single 2685 builds over raving synths with layered drums until what I think is a fula flute loop undulates across. It would be all mysterious but Marfox chops it and the percussion savagely until everything feels like it’s been dashed to pieces. The almost liquefied remains are poured into a number of different rhythmic figures, spanning the distance between Euro and African dancefloors.
Unsound, by contrast, eschews any such gimmickry, pursuing a repetitive bassy roar, letting tinny, syncopated snares fall into the gaps. It’s positively industrial and I admire its simple, brutal effectiveness. Tarraxo Everyday is the only chill cut in the collection and tarraxo is the style it takes: a sauntering but rhythmically complex beat, which usually focuses on rhythm at the expense of most melody, though this one plays against type via long, lilting synth melodies.
The back half of the EP steadily builds the burn back up again. Kassumbala lassoes its bleating and bubbling treble synths in over a tightly syncopated beat. Cobra Preta quickly accelerates to a breakneck pace and is carnivalesque, complete with sampled whistles and yawps; the side-to-side motion of the rhythm evokes the titular reptile. The soca sounding snares of closing number, B18 maintain the breathless, carnival atmosphere to the final moment.
Chapa Quente might be modestly sized, but it’s a very satisfying piece of work. Selfishly, I almost hope that the EP doesn’t continue Marfox’s rise to global prominence. How good is this? I don’t want to hear a million producers reproducing it till the inspiration is completely sucked dry. Marfox and Principe only work in little increments though. Their successes are slow even if they are increasingly assured – so I suppose we’ve still got some time together to look forward to. I probably shouldn’t tell you, but you might want to check this out too.
4ZZZFM, April 2016
The opening track of Chapa Quente, 2685 couldn’t be more different from its predecessor, it begins straight out of a club, all hifi rave sheen, 4/4 beats, handclaps, and it’s difficult not to freak out a little, and ponder what the intervening years and surge in popularity done to Marfox. But these thoughts dissipate as quickly as they arrive as he continues to layer the ingredients, the frenetic polyrhythmic hand percussion and a hyperactive flute helping the piece to evolve into an overwhelming, somewhat woozy and frenzied slab of inspired off kilter dance music. This is forward thinking club music. Make no mistake though, it’s still very much Marfox and it’s pedal to the metal, and with its humour and hat tipping to rave culture it demonstrates that Marfox’s focus has expanded outwards. Perhaps the title of the second track, the wonky reggae inflected ‘Unsound’, might give away how far his focus has shifted, referencing his time at the Polish festival. Yet this is not a bad thing, as there is no way that these two pieces and indeed the remainder of the EP could’ve come from any other artist in or outside Portugal. Marfox consumes reference points and integrates them into his own musical world like few others.
‘Cobra Preta’ (Black Snake) is another balls to the floor percussion workout, with an insistent whistle and repetitive vocal sample it’s pure dynamics that you can only imagine being grist for his live show. In fact the dancefloor seems to be very much a focus for Marfox, yet it’s his unique ability to seamlessly integrate the hand percussion or marimba samples, the wooden hits and rumbles with these clipped insistent and raw electronics that is entirely unique and unparalleled. The final piece, the stilted wooden ‘B 18’ seems like its locked in a groove yet it expands almost miraculously outwards and before long we’re back on the dancefloor, albeit with strange almost tribal ingredients. Yet this is the miracle of Marfox. His ability to shift time and space is unsurpassed. We knew he was one to watch in 2011, yet now it’s 2016 and I wouldn’t dare my eyes or ears away for a minute. Something important is happening.
Cyclic Defrost, April 2016
It’s well established that no-one does it quite like DJ Marfox. The Portuguese maverick is the figurehead of a style that is as unpredictable as it is fresh, alongside contemporaries such as Nidia Minaj and DJ Nigga Fox. Príncipe has of course been instrumental in helping bring this hyped up sound out of Lisbon and to the wider world, and after inaugurating the label with his own debut release back in 2011 Marfox returns to serve up another six tracks of madcap party ammunition. From brazen industrial drum clangs at wonky tilts to looped up Moroccan flute and delicate synth lines, you never know which way Marfox is going to turn as he presents his own vision of electronic music. It veers from the delightful mellow nature of “Tarraxo Everyday” to the frenetic peak time stomp of “2685”, and the diversity of sounds on offer surely point to the maturing in the sound of this always-interesting producer.
Juno Plus, May 2016
Quem presume que as fervilhantes produções de DJ Marfox e da Príncipe Discos tendem para o monotemático deverá ficar esclarecido do contrário com Chapa Quente. É só entrar na viagem. “B 18” forma um coro de cascatas rítmicas que vai engrossando com o correr da faixa. A batida chama o samba e ele vem, e de um quase nada se gera uma peça que aos dois minutos já corre densa, num alarido metálico. “Cobra Preta” recebe a deixa e eleva o EP às imediações do motim com a introdução, uma ponderada peça de cada vez, de voz, apito asmático, ferros, ventos sintéticos. “Kassumbula” é o momento em que o disco parece prestes a tropeçar na sua própria corrida, recuperando o embalo quando amparado por uma semelhança de batimento cardíaco. Tal como o género musical melífluo e descompressor aludido no título já deixa suspeitar, “Tarraxo Everyday” permite recuperar fôlego, num ambiente plástico varrido por um floreado de sintetizador mentolado, abrindo caminho para o ritmo sujo e os graves quase no vermelho de “Unsound”, que varrem o espaço à bala, abeirando-se da estética industrial mas sem tolher o calor. O melhor vem no fim: “2685” faz um upgrade das alusões sambistas de “B 18” e dispara em intensidade (sim, era possível), fazendo o cerco a uma revoada de flautas psicadélicas e a pontuais descargas de percussões hipnóticas. Uma apoteose que merecia ir bem para lá destes quase cinco minutos.
Por entre as gotas deste aguaceiro, DJ Marfox não perde o controlo nem a clareza das ideias. A tentação da abstracção fica à porta: por caminhos diversos, as seis faixas de Chapa Quente são blocos coloridos dançáveis, um reencontro exuberante e pluralista com a editora onde se estreou há cinco anos.
Time Out Lisboa / Porto, Maio 2016
When they head out on the road, DJ Marfox and his peers in Lisbon’s Afro-Portuguese club music scene find themselves in a curious position: they’ve mostly never heard of the artists they share a bill with. When I visited the city in 2014, I was told that the group’s exposure to Western dance music was almost non-existent. Marfox, for instance, was aware of Carl Cox, and that was pretty much it. It’s therefore inevitable that as the likes of Marfox, Nigga Fox and Firmeza become internationally established, the flood of new stuff they’re exposed to will influence their music.
This shows up on Chapa Quente, Marfox’s latest EP for the pioneering Lisbon label Príncipe, and he names a track after one of his experiences. In 2013, he and Nigga Fox played Unsound in Poland, their first on-the-ground exposure to Western club music. On “Unsound,” Marfox paints his storming kuduro canvas with darker colours, no doubt responding to the techno acts he caught at the festival. It’s a track that’s probably been useful in his DJ sets as a moment of gloom, but it’s among the least distinctive things he’s released. “2685” is much better. Through a buzzing synth lead it initially evokes ’90s raves, but a flute line and an onslaught of percussion flip it into one of Marfox’s hardest hitting batida jams.
The EP’s remaining tracks feel less informed by Marfox’s travels, but they show his sound developing in other ways. I thought the synth melody on “Tarraxo Everyday” was so good that it had to be a sample (the label said it isn’t). You can play it after the other romantic tarraxo track in Marfox’s catalogue, 2014’s “Heartbeat,” to hear how far he’s progressed with this style. Parts of “Cobra Preta” sound familiar, but there are a couple of elements, like the jagged little synth, that swing the tone of the track towards something much stranger. On “Kassumbula,” Marfox creates a breakdown by sweeping a filter across the master channel, adding an effective new trick to his arsenal, and on “B18,” he overloads the upper mid-range with kalimba and spacey zips. Not every genre will be suitable for absorption into the Lisbon sound, but on Chapa Quente Marfox shows that its expansion will throw up intriguing new shapes.
Resident Advisor, May 2016