Niagara - Apologia

  • One of the Portuguese label's most diverse releases yet.
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  • With their striking, hand-painted sleeves and spiky, revelatory takes on African-rooted rhythms like kuduro, tarraxo and kizomba, Príncipe Discos took the ghetto sound of Lisbon and amplified it worldwide. But even if you're familiar with the label, Niagara, one of their earliest acts, continue to upend expectations. With every release, the trio, made up of Sara Eckerson and brothers Alberto and António Arruda, jolt their sound into strange and unidentifiable forms. But even by those standards, Apologia finds the group spinning so far into in leftfield that they end up in their own dizzying soundworld. "Siena" takes just a few elements—flute, rattles, squelching electronics—and lets them all gurgle, chirp and flutter, like birds in a patch of Brazilian rainforest. Most of the other pieces forgo any telltale rhythm, instead riding on rippling patches, synth squiggles and unsteady arpeggios. For most of the LP, Niagara put a few sounds in motion and then let them waft and ping around. These loops are often simple, but they seem to constantly change shape. The bucolic yet queasy synth fizzes and sputtering drum machines of "6:30" bring to mind European ambient forefathers like Cluster. On the static-laden hand-drum patter of "Damasco," the music seems suspended in place even as it moves forward, a common feature of many tracks here. Depending on the format, the arc of the album differs significantly. The nine-track vinyl drifts away after the twinkling ambience of "Graffiti," while the four additional CD tracks find Niagara drifting back towards the sense of rhythm found on other Príncipe records. "O Astro" pairs tribal drum patterns to primitive electronic swooshes. "Cabo Verde"'s Latin congas and sensuous synths bring to mind Metro Area. But whatever format you happen to hear it in, Apologia shows Niagara roving far beyond Lisbon for inspiration.
  • Tracklist
      01. França 02. 6:30 03. Momento Braga 04. 40 05. Senhora Do Cabo 06. 2042 07. Damasco 08. Siena 09. Graffiti 10. Via Garibaldi (CD Bonus Track) 11. Matriz (CD Bonus Track) 12. Cabo Verde (CD Bonus Track) 13. O Astro (CD Bonus Track)