Boomkat Product Review:
Embracing their cultural heritage and augmenting warped club sounds with Indonesian music theory and Southeast Asian tribal music, Animistic Beliefs make a profound statement with their N.A.A.F.I. debut. One for fans of Gabber Modus Operandi, Osheyack, M.E.S.H. or Raja Kirik.
While their previous work probed the dynamics of western club music, "MERDEKA" is Animistic Beliefs' first step towards an alternate dancefloor reality. Rotterdam-based Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu confront the trauma that's been left by colonial devastation of their respective cultures: Linh is Vietnamese-Chinese and Marvin is Dutch-Moluccan, and the two work towards a way of embracing this heritage musically using urgent, outward-facing dancefloor constructions. It's a perfect fit for Mexico City's N.A.A.F.I. imprint, and immediately challenges techno and 'ardkore formulas with propulsive hybrid club ritualism that distills the essence of Southeast Asian theatrical expression into tone-fuck'd cyberscapes with a rubbery rhythmic pulse.
'Call of the Tahuri' breaks the regularity of the kick drum, twinning its ancient roll with Tifa drums (known as "the Moluccan heartbeat"), Totobuang (Gamelan-like gongs), vocals, and eerie drones from the Tahuri, a wind instrument made from a conch shell. It's an experiment that doesn't drag the music away from the club, but gives it more of a connection with reality and history - hearing these sounds used in this context is a revelation, immediately bridging with work from N.A.A.F.I. alums like Imaabs and Siete Catorce. 'To Dream About Water' zooms out of the rhythm for a second, allowing the duo's watery textures to demonstrate speed and friction before the track bursts into choppy amen-led fantasy, still led by dreamy, underwater microtonal synths and gongs.
They punch this remarkable Indonesian scaling into oppressive hard dance architectures on 'Goblins Caught on Camera', reflecting the violence of Dutch colonization with serrated buzzsaw leads and ruthlessly overdriven beats. Like Raja Kirik, Animistic Beliefs are able to snapshot ominous cultural disruption by not necessarily hybridizing sounds, but using them as signifiers of violence enacted on indigenous native cultures by ruthless western barbarism that's still present in today's society - even in its dance music. There's a crack of daylight in the track's central section, with more gamelan-esque synth cascades that are eventually beaten down by deafening percussion.
There's a yearning for change in the duo's music that makes expressionistic moments like 'Kurang Tidor' and electro-fried closer 'Untitled [Khi Minh Gâp Lai]' feel like a vision of a different, bettrer future.