You’re walking through the slums of Lisbon when the faint sound of a conga takes hold of your feet. You subconsciously step in rhythm towards the distant beat, and as you get closer the conga is steadily joined by many other percussive tones and ornamentations. Your entire body is at the mercy of the rhythmic onslaught as you turn down the last dingy corridor, and see one individual surrounded by a multitude of percussion instruments and oddities . . .
I love when an isolated genre crawls its way out of the woodwork and attains its due praise. I especially love when that genre happens to be almost entirely percussion-based. Alma Do Meu Pai is the newest release by Cilio Manuel, known as DJ Firmeza. Manuel produces a specific strain of electronic music birthed in the ghettos surrounding Lisbon, which until recently had only been shared communally. Aren’t we lucky?
It’s called Batida, and it translates to “my beat” in Portuguese. These compositions are anchored by dense, primarily Latin percussion polyrhythms that constantly shift and sway with woozy precision. Sparse melodic loops dance around the towering beats and provide splashes of color, but the drums are the clear centerpiece. The tracks are brief, made for the consumption of dancers, but they contain worlds of captivating ideas.
Ama Do Meu Pai translates to “Soul of My Father” and is dedicated to Manuel’s recently deceased dad. The lively, frantic elements of this record are apparent, but there’s a contemplative vein of melancholy running through it that steps into the light when one considers the unfortunate inspiration and commits to a focused listening. Life is born from tragedy! If you’re seeking percussion-focused electronics, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)