The preternaturally attuned ear of Gonçalo F. Cardoso lands on Borneo Island, Malaysia for a richly detailed immersion in its equatorial ambience and indigenous music.
“A globetrotter in the most pure and respectful sense, away from the trappings of neo-colonialist ventures and predatory tourism, Discrepant head honcho Gonçalo F. Cardoso returns to his Island impression series to offers us another glimpse of his deep, abstract impressions of (an)other island.
After passionately collecting the sounds and lives inhabiting the main Island of Zanzibar, Unguja, released through Edições CN back in 2018, Cardoso now dwells into the Malaysian heartbeat of the Borneo forest through Island recordings made during a trip in 2016. Assembled in situ with meticulous craft from portable recorders, samplers and battery powered synths, these nice recollections conjure the spirits that lurk behind the inhabitable and the communal that are as much part of a personal memoir as an impressionistic portrait open to new meanings. Focused compositions that flow organically, bending the environment in & out of shape into a new dreamlike exotica with plenty of breathing room for every detail, silence and movement to surface.
A particular moment suspended in time, haunted perpetually by its bygone existence. Something no postcard or photograph could ever, ever come even close to.”
Pow wow singer and Bon Iver collaborator Joe Rainey directs his astonishing voice thru industrial grit, widescreen orchestrals and chaotic DIY synth noise on "Niineta", his debut for Justin Vernon's 37d03d label. Completely singular music.
Rainey was brought up in Minneapolis, with a heritage that links to the Red Lake Ojibwe - an indigenous tribe that has a sovereign state in northern Minnesota. And while he didn't grow up there, he long felt the pull of a culture that at various times has been blotted out by the USA. Rainey has been involved in pow wow singing since he was just five years old, and has performed in bands as well as building up an immense archive of field recordings. 'Niineta' is his debut album, but he's been performing for years - in 2016, he even brought Justin Vernon to tears during a festival show in Wisconsin. It was enough for Vernon to invite Rainey to contribute to his last album, and sign him to the 37d03d he runs with The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.
The record is an example of how pow wow traditions can be synthesized into different forms without losing their musical core; Rainey's range and vocal style roots the album in tradition, but his production and willingness to experiment fires "Niineta" into the future. With help from Fog's Andrew Broder, Rainey has put together a distorted, abstract backdrop that happily ducks from jagged beatscapes into luscious orchestral cinematics without any unintentional jerkiness. The music is consistent with Rainey's pow wow tradition, but acknowledges decades of music that too often has sat distant. 'b.e. son' loops vocal phrases across each other over blown-out percussion and sweeping strings, and 'easy on the cide' foregrounds a beat that sounds rougher than gravel, Autotuning Rainey's lead vocal and contorting it evocatively.
On 'no chants', a frazzled TR-808 kick booms beneath tape saturated pulses, creating a soundscape that's not a million miles from Kanye West's game-changing "Yeezus" - but this isn't homage, Rainey uses the distortion to hint at darker elements, a disturbance in his culture that's violent, deafening and charged with emotion. The album's lengthy finale 'phil's offering' is also its most impressive, building slowly over looped crackle that gives a rhythmic click to Rainey's unforgettable vocal performance - eventually the track disappears into an industrial blur as processed field recordings reveal Rainey's heritage. Trust us, this ain't like anything you've heard before.
Deep, spiritual and relentlessly winding Batida and Tarraxho specials from Lisbon’s DJ Narciso and Nuno Beats - now joined by Farucox - for their 2nd RS Produções showcase with the inimitable and always-deadly Príncipe. Woozy, neck-snapping rhythmic flexes x cinematic melancholia - 100% vibes for the good of yr health.
A toast to good health after the bleakest days of the pandemic, ‘Saúde Em Primeiro Lugar’(health first) displays the Lisbon scene’s strength in diversity with a balance of relentless forward motion and melancholy vibes that acknowledge it’s still a bit weird out there. Opening with DJ Narciso’s intimate prayer for his pals ‘Oração’, which soon turns into a deep stepper, the expansive 13-track album transcends pure dancefloor pressure to work as a proper long player in its own right.
The album’s flow and emotive cadence benefits from the introduction of Farucox on a trio of highlights, with almost Drexciyan Black Atlantic overtones on ‘Taba’ and the syncopation of tendon-twitch drums to lush pads in ‘Sem Cabeça’, while the supremely weird, slow and offbeat tarraxho tang of ‘Esfrega (Ti Lito)’ shuts it down with a memorable curtain closer. DJ Narciso & Nuno Beats’ production proves no less reliable, also channelling James Stinson - whether knowingly or not - on the outstanding ‘Mitsai’ with its darkside choral motifs and electro-techno hydrodynamics, or in the tense, scaly charge of ‘Semana Chata’.
But the heavier stuff is only half the equation here. The record’s 2nd half is given to more concentrated downbeat headiness, spanning the groggy slosh of ‘Texx’ to a superb bluesy-Fado guitar meditation ‘Valentine’s Day 2K17’, pitch-bent underwater romance in ‘PrinCIPES’, and even acapella song ‘Bué de Bass’ beside the freakishly screwed raver ‘Bolor’. Seriously brimming with surprises at ever turn, it’s no doubt one of Príncipe’s deadliest releases, marking the start of their 2nd decade with relentless style.
Landing light and fragrant on the mind, Seoul’s Salamanda grace NYC’s Human Pitch with an airspun follow-up to their ambient snacks for GMT and Métreon
After charming with ‘Allez!’ for Good Morning Tapes, the duo coax their rhythmelodic eastern percussions and vox into a lather of gently hiccupping structures on ‘ashbalkum’, their 3rd album to date. Echoing aspects of Korean classical music as much as Japanese environmental ambient concerns, their lissom sound is redolent of of Woo’s lilting confections and the fragility of Susuma Yokota, but packs a subtle, underlying swagger of their own where it matters, lending a fine balance of ying/yang energies that may well equalise heads in need, and suggest a purpose intended for both armchairs and ambient dancefloors.
Nimbly swaying between ambient downbeat froth and prevailing currents of dembow, Salamanda veil their slinky impulses with a gorgeous harmonic lightshow of tuned percussions and nuanced synth and vocal hues. The fantasy begins with breathy coos and aqueous, laminal textures in ‘Overdose’ that slosh into puckered, Reichian melodic phrasing on ‘Melting Hazard’, and given weight with the ruder swang of ‘Rumble Bumble’ that gives a calm but insistent momentum to the album; from its almost early Wild Bunch or DJ Krush vibes on ‘Coconut warrior’ thru the pan-slosh dembow of ‘Hard Luck Story’, to the dream motion evinced by ‘Kiddo Caterpillar’, and Susumu Yokota-like twinkle of ‘Catching Tails’.
Reticulated bassbin minimalism from NYC’s K Wata, runner of the pivotal clubnight, Slink, and now producer of note with a mutant style comparable to Batu or Mosca
Daring to differ in a field of unapologetic copycats, K Wata makes a strong impression with his debut haul of skeletal rhythmic tics and aerated textures that feel like a ghostly distillation of current UK mutations.
Feeling out murky negative space with brittle 2-step bones in ‘Meet me at the One’, he proceeds to dial up the atmospheric content around the displaced steppers footing of ‘2 Spot Text’, and proper gyring sound design in the superb centrepiece ‘Lost My Focus’. At its most supple, ‘Dot Dot Dot’ toys with delicate 2-step patterns in subtly warped hyperspace, and ‘Sling of Life’ reduces his style to pure plasmic textures and whispered murmurs that could make for a crafty bridge in DJ sets.