- Excellent "rough kuduro" that explores the effects of the Angolan Civil War.
- Because so much electronic music is functional and without lyrics, it's rare to find records with a clear and powerful relationship between form and content. Hyperdub, though, has a knack for unearthing them (think Burial's Untrue or Babyfather's BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow). The label's latest gem is Enclave, a six-track EP by a Belgian producer of Angolan descent called Nazar. The music, made in response to the vicious Angolan Civil War, which ran from 1975 through 2002, is raw, thrilling and unsettling—he calls his sound "rough kuduro." "I couldn't express my frustrations with what I was seeing on a daily basis and translate that uglier side," he said. "The existing kuduro was too upbeat."
Nazar didn't experience the war first hand, but he suffered its consequences. His father, who was involved in the fighting, was absent during his childhood. When Nazar visited Angola after the war, he felt "attacked right away and not welcomed." As a member of the Angolan diaspora in Belgium, he was also repeatedly reminded that he didn't "belong." On Enclave, Nazar brilliantly conveys both the physical and psychological trauma caused by the war. He deploys a range of techniques and devices, some overt and some more subtle. The EP is full of references to the battlefield, from the track titles—"Warning Shots," "Airstrike"—to the barrage of on-the-ground sounds: guns cocking, machine-gun fire, helicopters hovering. Lyrics, too, play a part. On the excellent "Airstrike," Nazar and the Hyperdub affiliate Shannen S.P. deliver Babyfather-style bars over siren synths and a throbbing kuduro beat: "32 wives and their children / Only one room to stay hidden / Airstrike."
Less obvious, yet more compelling, is the music itself. Harsh and dramatic sounds capture the noise and brutality of war, while a general feeling of unease permeates throughout the EP, evoking fear and mental distress. On the opener, "South Border," the two traumas coexist to striking effect. Shrill synths circle overhead like fighter jets, punctuated by the occasional knock at the door. In the distance, behind bassy stabs that sound like bombs falling, human voices cry out. "Warning Shots," a frantic tumble of distorted drums and zapping melody, is "rough kuduro" at its roughest. "Enclave" and "Konvoy," which featured on Kode9 and Burial's Fabriclive 100 mix, are on a similar tip, hectic and bumpy, though the sounds are easier to digest, even tuneful at times. Both would tear up the club.
Part of what makes Enclave such a complete piece of work is the range of moods and styles on show—too many straight-up club tracks and the act may have worn thin. The EP closes with "Ceasefire," a chirpy ambient cut featuring his father reading a page, in Portuguese, from his old war diary. Once the fighting ended, Nazar reconnected with his father and, in time, forgave his absence through his own understanding of the war. Feelings of love and stability are reflected in the old man's soothing voice and the track's bright, airy tones. There's hope in there, too.
A1 South Border
A2 Warning Shots
A3 Airstrike feat. Shannen S.P.