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.
Metal Preyers' latest is a fairytale-inspired cauldron of psychedelic tinderbox fire and library music clatter - properly evocative ritual magick shit that's in the same zone as late-period Broadcast, Czech New Wave composer Luboš Fišer, Demdike Stare, Leila and early Colleen. Purple-tinted, mysterious and properly spannered, in the best possible way.
With London's Jesse Hackett handling production and Chicago's Mariano Chavez on the visuals, Metal Preyers rebuild a world inspired by dusty library music and cult stop-motion animated shorts into up-to-the-minute genre-f*cked electronic mutations. The album is a narrative soundtrack to a self-penned fairytale about a father and daughter's voyage through a swamp inhabited by gremlins and crater creatures. The idea and most of the album's vocals came from Hackett's six-year-old daughter Nyasha, who used a phone's voice notes app to record sketches of her singing, then spun into full tracks by Hackett who contorts them into robotic howls and disembodied forest folk wails.
On 'Scream Dreamer', Nyasha's vocals are smeared into industrial drones, pressed into a tape-DIY collage of machinery sounds and looped, loping quasi-rhythmic chaos, but on 'The Preyers Forest' she sings nursery rhymes against Hackett's saturated toybox cycles. 'Red Swines' finds Hackett flexing his rhythmic muscle again, burying lightning-zapped screwed-n-chopped trap drums in ferric noise - it's the meeting point between Rabit's negative-space trap't-grime and the Finders Keepers axis. 'Carpenters Cabin' somehow references both horror synth maestro John Carpenter and Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass' - it's horror synth music that avoids the obvious cliches, sounding spooky but never hackneyed, filtered thru a gristly FX chain and formed into dubwise dirt and dust.
The album's most memorable tracks - 'Slime Things Accent' and 'On Her Way' - are bleak stop-motion flickers that perfectly evoke Hackett and Chavez's visual universe. Hackett creates an entire stage with "Shadow Swamps" and succeeds by wrapping our early anxieties in a woolen blanket of well-crafted processes and smudged soundscapes.
Upfront, diamond cut club pressure from Nídia, DJ Lag, Circuit 900 and Kamran on London’s ever reliable Goon Club Allstars
Plucked from the top shelf of kuduro, gqom, and emergent hard drum disciplines, Goon Club’s first frenz and fam session gives the dancers something to properly get down with. It pairs established names such as Angolan-Portuguese dynamo Nídia with Wiley and Beyonce’s fave, DJ Lag, plus breakthru Danish producers Circuit 900, and even a rare outing from label co-founders Kamran to stake a heavy claim to the reopening dancefloors of 2021.
After working with Fever Ray and dropping her lauded debut album in recent years, Nídia lights it off with the strobing trance arps, scudding leads and glyding kuduro groove of ‘Melodie Glaçe’ in an update of her Principe zingers, while Durban’s DJ Lag holds down a seething gqom battering ram in ‘London Riot.’ On the flip Denmark’s Circuit 900 come with prime, colourful UKF vibes, like something one might have heard on Petchy’s classic radio shows during its heyday, and Goon Club’s own Kamran taps out a killer rhythmelodic code on the titular Persian drum with ‘Tombak Track’ sure to go off with fans of DJ Plead, Beatrice Dillon and Shackleton.
Next in the Aqualung reissue series periscope, Drexciya’s Lab Rat XL - the last of his seven storms LP cycle - comes up for air, ready to stun future generations.
Mice or Cyborg was first dispatched posthumously thru Clone in 2003, in the year following James Stinson’s final dive into the next dimension. It has since become one of his most elusive recordings, with original vinyl copies and even the repress fetching high prices, in parts due to the dead artist factor, and linked to that, the album’s unshakeable feeling of soulful melancholy that’s almost difficult to listen to, knowing that he knew what was on the horizon while making the record.
These ears clearly remember first hearing the record at SV3N’s legendary iLEKTRO event at The Park in Manchester, quite possibly NYE 2003/4, and just being floored by the moody swagger of Lab Rat 3. It was one of those moments when Drexciyan music really hits home, and never leaves you.
Along with the spine-freezing vocals and synth flares on Lab Rat 1, the mad subs on Lab Rat 2, and its eventual turns to more atonal, salinated flow in Lab Rat 5, or the way Lab Rat 6 feels like he’s being absorbed into the wires and re-routed back to the L.A.M. days, Lab Rat XL is undoubtedly one of Detroit’s high water marks, and surely ranks among techno and electronic music’s most legendary.
An essential listen. R.I.P. James Stinson.
Big in the charts in 1985, the Italian queen of “romantic dance” made her second single “Get Closer” a clairvoyant poem about… errr… life and love: “when the world is running down - get closer”!
"Think stonewashed jeans, endless summers on Italian beaches, boats coming back to the shore.
Remixed by fellow country men Tiger & Woods, “Get Closer” gets sandblasted into our modern times and the necessary treatment to be the peak- and night time hug fest, it’s always supposed to be. Add a run out tool by DJ Oyster and a gentle DJ-friendly edit by Gerd Janson of the original to the billboard. And always remember: changing your spell can save you."