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Here are the 10 greatest EPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine.

marfox-crack

The batida OG returned to the Príncipe shelves this year for a typically savage outing of industrial clomp and genre-spinning dynamism. Framed as a “return to his roots”, the EP ranges from the frenetic panpipe pandemonium of 2685 to the mellow pulse of Tarraxo Everyday. Symbolic of Marfox’s commitment to finding new shapes and contor- tions from the styles and methods he finds, Chapa Quente is an irresistible victory lap from a modern godfather.

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mambos-crack

For the debut Príncipe compilation, founders of the scene presented their work alongside newer figures like Safari and Dadifox. The tightly locked grooves, clipped Afrobeat syncopations and raw cut-and-paste sampling were all emblematic of “the Príncipe sound”, but the stylistic range on display here painted a more rounded picture – an ensemble cast of outsiders no longer defined by hallmark idiosyncrasies, growing into their own ever-evolving method and dismantling influences to form a culture which is theirs.

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dj-nigga-fox-page-001

This Angolan-born, Lisbon-based producer makes people move. Rogério is the name in his passport, but as DJ NIGGA FOX he reminds us that the world of passports and borders makes little sense. His music takes you to places you didn’t even know existed, and you don’t need permission to make yourself feel right at home.

We love your music. What’s your secret to making it sound so good?
Imagination.

What would you do if you became the mayor of Lisbon?
I’d add a fountain to every park in Lisbon and I would allow noise until 2AM, at home and out in the streets.

What are your thoughts on money?
You can’t do much without it. It doesn’t bring happiness, but it helps.

Sex with the ex?
I think it’s a really good idea to rekindle the flame if it’s a recent ex, but if there isn’t any type of conversation left, then it’s not worth it.

Are you comfortable waking up early?
Only if I go to bed early.

When were you last tempted to tell a lie?
When I skipped class at school.

If you had to spend the rest of your life on an island and you could only choose one dish to eat every day, what would it be?
Bacalhau com natas: codfish with cream.

Would you rather be a documentary filmmaker or a cartoonist?
Cartoonist. I think it would be more fun.

What is the highest art form in your opinion?
Music, cinema, painting and sculpture.

Do you see yourself staying up all night to finish an interesting book?
For a book: no. To finish a piece of music: yes.

Do you make a lot of noise?
When I’m making music, yes.

Have you ever thought of yourself as a slave to love?
I was a slave to love with my first girlfriend. Sometimes it’s good to be a slave to love, because that way you are more likely to learn from your mistakes, so you can avoid making them again.

Would you say you have a forgiving heart?
Oh, I’m soft. Too soft.

Brunette or blonde?
Both.

What makes you cry?
When I see misery, people taking each other’s lives, a death in the family… I’m way too sensitive.

If you had a child, what is the one character trait you would like him/her to inherit?
My kindness.

The Beatles or The Stones?
Both.

What’s your favourite place in the world?
My home. But I’d love to go to Brazil.

What’s worth fighting for?
In my case, I’d say I fight for my dream which is music.

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cyclic-defrost-nervoso

Nervoso likes his percussion, and doesn’t need much else, as the six songs here, clocking in at 20 odd minutes in total, are wonky unsettling rhythmic workouts with minimal extraneous ingredients. Occasionally there’s a hilarious repetitive vocal sample saying “Ah Ah,” such as on ‘Ah Ah’, a bit of bass here and a siren there, but in the main, it’s percussion, sampled hand percussion and electronic beats. Most of his sounds feel culled from a techno music sample library, though whilst Nervoso is no doubt tipping his hat to this world, his stuttering beats, odd cadences and peculiar time signatures, alongside colliding, near incongruous rhythmic patterns keep everything joyfully off kilter and uncertain.

The most interesting piece is the final ‘Kuia,’ and it’s also his also his most diverse, and though it barely gets above a canter, the beats evolve, swing, and even the implementation of some strange pitches of sound that are vaguely reminiscent of farmyard animals from kids keyboards still manages to end up with this really seductive stilted groove. Like much of Nervoso’s music it almost feels like a challenge he’s given himself, by beginning with a cold difficult near grooveless snare, then it’s up to him to slowly breathe life into the track. And it’s incredible how Nervoso and many of his compatriots seem to be able to make challenging fascinating and unexpected dance music from the simplest of ingredients.

This is the kind of music that makes you wonder if you’re playing it at the wrong speed, it’s a deconstruction of electronic music, where it has been disassembled and pieced back together a little wrong, leaving the listener feeling more than a little bit, confused, energized and Nervoso.

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ransom-note-nervoso

More Lisbon butter from the ever trail blazing Principe. Niagara use their EP to push further from any recognisable house template out into jazzy syncopation – it’ll be interesting to see how far and wild they can take this new direction. But for me the real killers come from Nervoso; he’s one of the most underrated DJs on the planet, and these 5 grooves tell you everything you need to know. There’s hardly anything to them- just sets of Fruity Loops drum patterns marching on and on in with zero fucking about. He’s barely bothered to process his hits, there’s a minimum happening at any point, and somehow the result is hard, knocking dance music that could wake the dead. If you’re getting sick of fussy production and tracks built from tricks more than ideas, Nervoso is the antidote.

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niagara-sss

Depuis son premier EP chez Príncipe en 2013, le trio Niagara occupe une place originale au sein de la scène portugaise actuelle : à travers des sorties disséminées sur son propre label Ascender ou sur Príncipe, Niagara développe un son aux rythmiques carrées et aux sonorités funky. Après une série de CDr cette année, les trois acolytes reviennent avec un nouvel EP quatre-titres, qui marque une évolution de leur son. 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.

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