Boomkat Product Review:
Príncipe zoom out from dancefloor immediacy to dreamiest zones with XEXA's outstanding debut of world-building wanderlust, oscillating between bloozy ambient intimacy to lilting rhythmelodies and widescreen modern classical tipped if yr into Emeka Ogboh, Laurel Halo, Rafael Toral, David Toop.
A reminder to never second guess Lisbon’s brilliant Príncipe, ‘Vibrações de Prata’ (’Silver Vibrations’) showcases the sparkling imagination of new signee XEXA. Her striking debut began life as part of her studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, where she developed a compositional style of organic electro-acoustics woven into impressionistic storytelling, deploying original instrumental performance and nuanced sound design at the service of immersive, poetic aural environments.
Across its nine parts, smeared vocals meet raw soundscapes and rustling polyrhythms as the album blossoms along axes of cosmic and 4th world ambient, dancefloor levitations and richly imaginative, etheric pop that draws on her heritage, rooted in the natural world and musics of São Tomé and Príncipe islands of West Africa, as much as modern day Lisbon and London. It’s a gorgeous, colourful sound, and perhaps one that we were not expecting from a label best known for their inspirational club music.
‘Vibrações de Prata’ follows a gently mercurial flow from her synthetic emulation of a dragonfly’s wingbeats on ‘Libelula’, to the wilting solo piano keys of ‘SectionAudio’, via lathered and diffused rhythmic impulses of ’Nha Dêdê’ and the more urgent, metallic tang to ‘Fragmented Breath’ and ’Silver’, with its beautifully woozy 4th world intimations recalling Jon Hassell, to smudged, spiralling plumes of chamber pop in ‘Assim’ and the disembodied chants of ‘Sisters Dancing’.
XEXA’s intangible appeal is most seductive on the keening, melancholy lament ‘Prendes Nh’Alma’ - a real vaporous wonder to file next to Laurel Halo’s stunning ‘Atlas’, while ‘Clarinet Mood’ ends the album on a real oneiric note, where she daringly weaves through nine minutes of diaphanous diffusions that will take more than a single sitting to fully fathom.