Boomkat Product Review:
Quickly following October's heady, slow-burning "Veneza", 'Magna Moralia' continues Portuguese trio Niagara's exploration of new age modalities, layering delicate Satie-esque piano with minimalist FM electronics.
A far cry from their gritty Príncipe-released 2020 breakout 'Pais & Filhos', 'Magno Moralia' shows the sheer range of Sara Eckerson, Alberto Arruda, and António Arruda's vision, fusing waterlogged bathhouse ambience with furniture music stylings and rigorous synthetic flexes. It would be inaccurate to badge the music as simply ambient - Niagara make music that floats into astral realms, but remains slightly too manicured and intentional to slip easily into the background. The kosmische shimmer of 'Veneza' is absent here, replaced by the sort of gentle, glassy electronics you might expect to find on a rediscovered Japanese oddity, with the trio's assured ivory-stroked minimalist curlicues adding dimension.
Opening track 'XX' is rooted in piano ruminations that aren't a million miles from Eno's "Thursday Afternoon" or Harold Budd's meditative balminess. On 'IV', these soft melodic tendrils are almost eclipsed completely by bubbling environmental sounds and arpeggiated neon blips. Washing waters are expressed with such clarity that they function like a synth, circling around buzz'd oscillations and faint acoustic murmurs. By 'V', haunted temple bells have joined the ensemble, echoing synthesizer chimes and punctuating levitational, resonant pads.
'Magna Moralia' sounds like healing music, but it's unshackled from the expectations and cultural weight that exercise might suggest; it's music that can lift your spirits and transport you for a brief moment without outstaying its welcome.