"A wash of neon synths, with a backdrop borrowing liberally from UK garage and a percussion section spliced straight from the DNA of afrobeat." XLR8R
"A thick helix of sounds: an intuitive beat, relentless glockenspiel line and genuinely catching chorus melody helps the song to sit somewhere between Peter Gabriel and those good bits of Delphic." Line Of Best Fit
From the opening bars of ‘Bright Lights’, it’s clear that Lisbon brothers Bruno and Leo aka Octa Push have redrawn the parameters of their sound. They’ve developed the elements that defined their breakthrough releases and expanded them to develop a broad, exciting palette of new sonic textures and colours. Their early releases on Soul Jazz, Fabric, Enchufada and others expertly balanced UK bass and African influences to catch the attention of high profile fans like Thom Yorke, SBTRKT and Gilles Peterson. Setting them apart from the crowd were an undeniable ear for melody and a percussive sensibility drawing on the polyrhythms of African music. On ‘Oito’ their debut LP they’ve taken those two elements and worked them in to twelve compelling tracks that marry the organic and the electronic as well as underground music from Europe and the African continent.
The album takes the sub bass and syncopated rhythms of UK genres like garage as its starting point but once again filters that through a kaleidoscope of influences, mainly stemming from Portugal’s unique cultural ties to Africa. The brothers share a family history in Guine Bissau, growing up in a house full of African masks and stories. Unlike previous work they’ve worked to infuse the album with musical references to music like Nigerian Afrobeat or Funana from Cape Verde without overtly sounding like the music itself. Re-contextualizing instruments like Kalimbas or Xylophones and playing with complex rhythms gives their music a richness without them ever sounding like copyists.
The album also marks and expansion of their work with vocalists, starting on track one with Alex Klimovitsky from the Portuguese/USA group Youthless. After meeting on the Lisbon scene the brothers clicked with Alex and began work in earnest on the album. He’s now a mainstay of the Octa Push live show, lending his skills as a vocalist, programmer and multi-instrumentalist. The three tracks featuring Alex, ‘Bright Lights’, ‘Francoise Hardy’ and ‘Splendor’ balance great songwriting with intricate vocal layering and melodic work that was only made possible by such a close connection between the three artists.
Elsewhere we find Sasha from Berlin’s pioneering Jahcoozi who have carved out a distinctive niche on labels like Ninja Tune, Kitty Yo and BPitch Control over several albums. They’re known for looking to other cultures for inspirationso this was a perfect collaboration, ‘MyShare’ blends Sasha’s sharp stream of consciousness delivery with a deep, melancholic melody and synths that nod towards South African Kwaito.
London based Catarina Moreno is a name to watch with early home recorded demos gaining huge support. This is one of her first electronic collaborations and the result is stunning with her soulful delivery riding a percussive riff, cutting through clouds of white noise. The final collaboration is with Braima Galissa, one of the best kora players in Guine Bissau. The complex melody of that traditional intrument is woven in to ‘Ali Dom’ along with Galissa’s powerful vocals conjuring up the perhaps the most vivid non-European image on the LP.
The instrumental tracks are all equally powerful, from the bright bounce of ‘Glimpse’ through uplifting energy on ‘Afroinscope’ and on to Afro-inflected d&b on ‘Would Be Mice’. Closing track ‘Tamu’, which means sweet in Swahili is just that, a glorious ride out of the album on a wave of computer game arpeggios and the final perfect meeting of that signature melody and percussion.
The arresting artwork comes from Lisbon based Salazare.