‘Codigo De Barras’ is the exceptionally tight first album from Lisbon-via-Manchester’s cult batida producer P. Adrix - now operating as A.k.Adrix - an LP bursting with shockingly sharp-cut but breezily animated dancers from the top shelf of kuduro, all fire this one!!!
Making good on the promise of P. Adrix’s incendiary 2018 debut EP, the Angolan-Portuguese producer’s first album as A.K.Adrix slickly recalibrates the whirring percussive mechanics of his acclaimed early works with a richer melodic tone in eleven tight, tempered productions. It’s a significant and confident advance of his style into a more supple, melancholic form of instrumental songcraft, following suit with slicker recent moves by Nídia and Blacksea Não Maya on Príncipe with outstandingly fresh contributions to one of the world’s most vital dance scenes.
The raw electric club buzz of Adrix’s early zingers is still present, only now more refined and betraying a craftier emotional intelligence and sensuality that’s beautifully apparent across the album. From the mix of haunting choral motifs and field recordings with Derrick May-like strings in opener ‘Ambiente Spiritual’, to the album’s standout centrepiece of gently hypnotic flute arps and tumbling tabla drums meshed into tarraxho rhythms on ‘Espuma Nocturna’, or the wide-eyed wonder of ‘Desenhos Animados’ with its impish woodwind and woodblock drums; it’s a rare pleasure to witness Adrix get deep inside his sound and really come into his own.
Anyone looking for the rude stuff will get it in the more raggo charge of ‘X50’, the thumping subs of ‘Hottttttttttt’, and the martial swag of ’Settings’, but the album’s dextrous and intricately efficient push/pull of energies between the club, personal sentiments, and naturally avant leanings, is perhaps best compared with Beatrice Dillon’s stunning ‘Workaround’ in the 2020 field.
Gqom OG, Griffit Vigo knocks out a killer definitive solo album including remastered version of his foundational ‘Rees Vibe’ banger - a big DJ Lag tune - and eight more darkside, technoid zingers naturally inspired by Zulu culture and modern South Africa
Straight-up, the new remaster of ‘Rees Vibe’ knocks colder and harder than the 2018 master, and is unmissable for the DJs, but skipping to the new gear there’s serious dancers’ tackle tucked into the cosmic-militant syncopated snares and bleeps of ‘Ups and Downs’, a super-tight percussive nugget in ‘Drumm Hand (Griffit Vigo’s Ancestral Mix)’ strongly recalling Pinch’s runs into UKF styles, and again with the lip-bitingly deft, pensile percs and chants of ’Shanga Dedi’. And If you aren’t going heads-down and dancing a hole in your rug after ‘Yasizwa Les’gubhu (Vigo Music Original Mix)’, then maybe lockdown’s got too bad for you. Swear down the best dancers we’ve ever seen were the South African crew at Nyege Festival, and we can only practice and pretend with these bangers that we’re even half as good at cutting shapes. Make sure to check the bangers on Housupa just in this week if you like this lark!
What a no brainer?
Hakuna Kulala turn out the darkest Gqom on road with the ridiculously strong debut solo release by Infamous Boiz’ Menzi brimming with cyperpunk-cinematic sound design via hard-synched taxi techno drums. Massive RIYL DJ Lag, Nazar, Slikback!
Getting deeper than anyone into the mechanics and mindset of South Africa’s viral township techno sound, 27 year old Menzi Shabane makes seismic moves on the ‘Impazamo’ EP with six trax of gobsmacking Gqom pressure advanced by shocking levels of sound design detail and searing synth dynamics.
Menzi hails from the Umlazi township of Durban, where he rose to prominence as one half of Gqom pioneers, Infamous Boiz, whose influence is now felt shuddering from speakers in clubs across the world. Aside from producing, Menzi also runs the annual Gqom Bloq party, Festive Road Block Umlazi, and recently has supplied beats for some of South Africa’s biggest acts (Moonchild Sanelly, Mahotella Queens, Zolani Mahola and Zakes Bantwini), but it’s this EP for one of the hottest labels on the planet that will surely put his name on the global dancefloor map.
Daring to mess with the machinery of Gqom’s sharply defined style, Menzi opens it up like Hellraiser’s puzzlebox to truly invoke and unleash the sound’s darkside spirits. The title tune’s cinematic intro ratchets new levels of industrial drama to the sound that follow thru in the pained hollers and BM-style screeches of ‘Minimal Surge’ and the sheets of acid rain drone that soak ‘Underground Abaphansi’, while the percussive ballistics of ‘QGM’ and the jaw-dropping ‘Zulu Warrior’ recall the deep fwd sound design of Nazar’s experimental kuduro style, and Uganda’s Ecko Bazz plays the role of shaman or spirit guide in the pitch black midnight tone of ‘GQOM Tera’.
A staggering set packing the strongest Gqom tracks on road right now, ‘Impazamo’ is unmissable for lovers of dark, heavy and futuristic dance music from all corners of the club.
Lights out, game over. Duma win 2020. Breathtaking by any measure, Kenyan grindcore band Duma’s unparalleled debut of blast beats, sky-clawing synth noise and scarred larynx vocals is one of the mightiest things you’ll hear all year - a huge RIYL Nkisi, Woid, Senyawa...
Duma's self-titled debut is the most incredible injection of life-affirming, outsider energy imaginable in these dark ages; an LP that’s bound to cleave opinion and upend preconceptions of what music from East Africa, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, can be.
Comprising Martin Khanja (Lord Spikeheart) and Sam Karugu, Duma mete out a jaw-dropping extreme sound rooted in Nairobi’s flourishing underground metal scene, where they’ve previously performed in bands Lust of a Dying Breed and Seeds of Datura. Faithful to the name - translating to “Darkness” in Kiyuku - they forge a frankly unprecedented darkside sound, welding trve metal vocals and eschatological synths with the frenetic energy of Central African and breakcore rhythms in transfixing arrangements that just beggar belief.
Certainly we can compare them to other outliers of extreme music - the dark cosmic Congolese energy of Nkisi or the cataclysmic sound of Wold/Black Mecha, and Indonesia’s beastly Senyawa - but basically Duma are, like all the above, in a field of their own. From the psychoactive rush of militant snares and keening synths in ‘Angels and Abysses’ to the doomcore dirge of ‘Pembe 666’ and the exquisite menace of ‘Uganda With Sam’ and the scorching finale ‘The Echoes of The Beyond’ they uncannily reshape the game in their own image with every song, bending conventions and styles with profound sense of iconoclastic freedom and possessed discipline.
When they performed in Berghain at this year's CTM festival, worlds were shattered into a million tiny pieces. They had technical difficulties; their setup wasn't working as planned, so producer Sam Karugu had to improvise, playing backing tracks from an audio player and direct injecting Lord Spike Heart's mic into his laptop. Somehow even with issues that would derail the most professional Berghain vets Duma's set was one of the undisputed highlights of the entire festival, pouring molten lava on the Berlin superclub's sweaty mass of inebriated revelers who created a messy moshpit on the dancefloor.
One of the strongest debut albums we've heard in years, Nazar’s ‘Guerrilla’ is a record about the Angolan civil war that we reckon will come to be one of the defining albums of 2020
Relaying the tragedy and terror of his family’s experience of war, Nazar uses a highly distinctive sound design palette and manacled grasp of what he calls “rough kuduro” rhythms to bring listeners deep into his mindset. While essentially impressionistic, Nazar vividly dramatises the theatre of war in a way that’s perhaps needless to say, authentic; drawing on his parents’ first-hand accounts and his own familiarity of the war’s aftermath, including his Rank General father’s writings and his mother’s oral recollections, to supply a shocking record that doesn’t shirk from the gore and adrenaline, while acknowledging sensations of blissed relief and optimism amid its scrambled con-fusion of feelings.
As previewed in 2018’s remarkable ‘Enclave’ EP, Nazar’s singular sound naturally bears a strong relationship to the Kuduro futurism of artists on Lisbon’s Príncipe label, however his use of cinematic tropes and a visionary style of narrative arrangement distinguishes his sound in its own lane. Setting the scene with the resigned negative ecstasy of ‘Retaliation’, Nazar becomes a physical presence via his vocal duet with Shannen SP, who returns from the ‘Enclave’ EP to supply icy gynoid vox to his blunted rap in ‘Bunker’, before lead single ‘UN Sanctions’ comes off like Klein’s hauntological elegies taken to the club, and the thrilling kuduro skirmish ’Immortal’ gives way to the contrasting, blissed succour of ‘Mother’ at the LP’s heart. But that relief is short-lived as the album’s final section stakes its message brutally clearly in the end scenes, running between his ravenous ‘Arms Deal’ to the schizzy but exactingly disciplined trample of ‘Why’, and the triumphant yet heartbroken denouement in ‘End Of Guerrilla’.
Where Burial somehow bridged a sort of maudlin vibe with still glowing embers of UK dance music in a style that became known as hauntology, Nazar follows to use a similar technique to distill and connote the pathology of war and its aftermath in a way that’s equally vital as a timeless expression of contemporary concerns on how the past plays out in the present day.
GAIKA's latest set was recorded in Puerto Escondido during a Mexican tour, and the collision of sounds is a subtle revelation.
NAAFI's finest appear on production duties - TAYHANA, OMAAR, Lechuga Zafiro, Zutzut, Wasted Fates, Debit and Lao - anchoring GAIKA's hazy poetry in an unmapped location that's a hyperspace leap from his usual South London base. It's a vital matchup, dripping syrupy, weightless outlines of dancehall, reggaetón and smudged Mexico City club over GAIKA's fleshy ASMR whispers and quietly pushing the limits of what pop might suggest or represent.
The TAYHANA-produced 'Of Saints' starts things off slowly and sexually as the Argentinian producer's glassy PS1-boot-screen melancholia underpins GAIKA's lusciously annunciated words. 'Lord Zemel' pits the rapper against Lechuga Zafiro's slithering, bass-heavy neon flicker, while the Zutzut-produced 'Brutal' vaporizes a dancehall banger, suggesting spiritual kinship with Felix Lee's fantastic "Inna Daze". "Seguridad" is sci-fi futurism for fantasy airlock isolationists.