P017 – NIAGARA – São João Baptista
Vinyl 12″ / Digital
Written and produced by Niagara;
Mastered by Tó Pinheiro da Silva, Artwork by Márcio Matos;
Released October, 2016;
VINYL/DIGITAL: Order from us
A1 – Asa
A2 – IV
B1 – Amarelo
B2 – Laranja
Niagara started 2016 firmly committed to their own Ascender label, having released a first 12″ late in 2015. A string of stellar CDRs guaranteed their relevant (and private) output became available outside their studio. The consistency is such that it was no effort selecting 4 additional tracks to assemble a third EP on Príncipe.
Opener “Asa” is strong on keys, suggests a cool jazz walkabout where the machines and other instruments seem to be jamming together without interference. This broadens the horizon of whoever thought they are a House band;
As countless other dance tracks, “IV” is built around a steady kickdrum, supporting a succession of vibes hitting left and right, obeying only the illogical architecture of Niagara’s sonic world;
“Amarelo” is the longest track in the set. Very physical and expansive beats, a funky guitar groove, deep bass tones and it ends just like that!
A cascading drum machine holds its own, then comes a wandering flute and passing waves as jets in the sky. Trippy and brilliant, “Laranja” changes coordinates and points to a fresh destination.
Vinyl 12″; individually hand-painted, hand-stamped copies available in Portugal only.
O início de ano fulgurante, por parte dos Niagara, abrandou nos meses de calor, mas unicamente porque há trabalho a fazer. No que se refere apenas à música (e a vida é bem mais que isso), os métodos mudam, há experiências constantemente a ser realizadas, instrumentos diferentes acrescentados ao lote e uma curiosidade enorme por parte dos três Niagara (Alberto, António e Sara). Eles próprios mudam o seu jogo, forçam-se novas questões para serem obrigados a novas soluções, e “São João Baptista” reflecte admiravelmente o que está diferente desde a última vez. A ideia de techno ou house está muito difusa, aqui, e recebe-se com naturalidade uma incorporação que diriamos bem próxima do jazz, tal como, em “Amarelo”, um intensificar do seu enamoramento por um compasso que já levou alguma imprensa a aproximá-los de um cenário pós-punk. O EP avança a estética, prende também mais à terra o ouvinte, com blocos de som bem concretos. A acústica é maravilhosa em “São João Baptista”, muitos deslizes por muitas plataformas e, se o som pode eventualmente soar austero, acreditem que se trata de diversão. Clássico instantâneo, e não o diríamos se não acreditássemos 100%.
Flur, October 2016
OK they may display shades comparable with Hieroglyphic Being at his bendiest, or even traces of Pop Dell’ Arte in their musical DNA, but there’s some defiantly offbeat and textured to the bittersweet, cranky yet playful jazz-house of Asa, and even when they simply put a big kick under it, like with IV, they still manage to make it sound warped in their own image; a proper grinning/gurning fizzog.
When they lock down to a beat, they really juice it for all its worth in burred, ferric disco psychedelia of Amarelo, but equally know how to swivel your bones in distinctly fresh but tribalistic style with the splayed snare patter and lysergic, flanged-out flute tickles of Laranja. Whatever, they’ll make your ‘floor feel weird and bring out the best dancers.
Boomkat, October 2016
São João Baptista introduit ainsi de nouvelles influences dans la musique du trio : on trouvera des réminiscences jazz dans les notes égrénées de clavier d’un « Asa » se rapprochant de Tortoise, ou des inflexions presque krautrock dans l’excellent « Amarelo », porté par une basse puissante. La répétition règne en règle, emportant l’auditeur dans des cercles sans fin sur lesquels se greffent progressivement de nouvelles textures, de nouvelles nappes : « IV », probable sommet de l’EP, s’apparente ainsi à un exercice de style provoquant un progressif dérèglement des sens, autour d’une mélodie insistante et lentement modulée. « Laranja », étrange écrin percussif sur lequel se superposent des touches vaporeuses, s’impose finalement comme conclusion idéale d’un EP intrigant et original, qui témoigne – si cela était encore nécessaire – de la vitalité de la scène portugaise actuelle.
SeekSickSound, October 2016
Niagara, one of Principe’s biggest acts (along with DJ Marfox) returns to the label with a tasty four tracker of brand new material, their third on this cult Portugese beats and bass label. Principe spearheaded a new sound a few years ago, taking cues from cumbia, raggaclash and kuduro; ‘batida’ (instrumental kuduro) was metallic, harsh and aggressive, but also had this undeniable groove and sound system friendly aesthetic that would see it find favour across much greater circles than its native Lisbon. If kids in south London were turning to the grime / dubstep template to let off steam, then this is what the inner city kids of Lisbon were flexing; it’s all punk rock anyway! “Asa” signals the start of this new collection of songs, haphazardly concocting up a tropical but rambunctious drum template, Niagara layers up nice keyboard flurries, squelchy synth stabs and waxy (synth?)-Rhodes lines. A modern and tropical take on the hardware driven vibe and effortlessly done. “IV” is up next, my personal favourite with its lysergic vocal delays, full frequency rub down and catchy, off-kilter rhythm. Flip and “Amerelo” comes charging in, like a batida version of Moodymann’s “Dem Young Sconies”. Corrosive as hell and begging for big speaker action, blasts of white noise seal the deal as this superior dancefloor destroyer. Finally, “Laranja” returns to the controlled chaos of first track, seemingly random drum artifacts flying through the mix and littered with fx. Through this chaos a mystic (possible India) flute line slowly makes itself audible. This is like Suns Of Arqa on crystal meth pop pickers! Frenzied drum programming meets spiritual flute raga…. mind blowing stuff indeed!
Piccadilly Records, October 2016
Unlike the Príncipe label’s core Afro-Portuguese artists, Niagara take cues from the European club scene. The trio’s house music remains deeply eccentric, though, its sonorities bright and its rhythms ramshackle. Their third EP for the label, São João Baptista, a scrawl of clapped-out drums and spidery guitars, highlights their idiosyncrasies. Sonically, the trio have found new ways to make the analogue and the electronic sit well together; stylistically, their mutant-funk tendencies are given freer rein.
On “Asa” they’re positively free range. The track’s kick drum foundation is solid, but the erratic conga hits, sour Rhodes chords and vintage funk lead seem to be following their own respective agendas. The results recall Miles Davis’s fusion era at its knottiest. “Laranja” uses live instrumentation less effectively. In this case it’s a flute, pirouetting coyly around whooshes of filtered synth. The drum machine holding it all together is swung to the point of stumbling, and the overall effect is aimless rather than oblique.
The rest of the EP is loopier but keeps the anarchic feel. “IV” focusses on the interplay of synth parts—tart chords, a squelchy bassline, wandering midrange melodies—that are slowly blurred together until the whole mix is a pungent smear. In the distance, a voice mumbles and shouts through a hailstorm of delay. “Amarelo” is a garden shed reboot of big-room techno. The bashing 4/4 is there, along with rising klaxon tones and snares that whip up cresting waves of white noise, but the guitar loops on top are janky as hell.
Resident Advisor, November 2016
‘São João Baptista’ features some adventurous new grooves from Portugal’s Niagara, an act less indebted to kuduro, batida, and tarraxinha than some of their Principe label-mates. This means they might be a little underrated – this is a very inventive collection for house and wave listeners! Check out the frenzied rhythms and astral synth maneuvers on “Asa”, which remind us of Jamal Moss, or the tension-sustaining thud and wonky wah lead of “Amarelo”, or the incredible in-orbit jazz of “Laranja”. Warmly recommended.
Amoeba Music, November 2016