Words by Philip Sherburne
“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.