Angola-born, now Manchester-based Nazar describes his sound as ‘weaponising’ the sound of kuduro, Angola’s upbeat music and dance style, coining the term ‘Rough Kuduro’ for a fusion that brings in much darker elements equally inspired by the country- horrors, politics, and division.
It’s exemplified perfectly on tracks like “Diverted”, which on the surface sounds like a complex, slightly grime-ish bit of intelligent electronica, but under which a more sinister tone constantly lurks, next to the sub-bass. The real details are in the shadows. The politics is often quite covert, and while the track “UN Sanctions” has an obviously political title, it’s essentially an instrumental, with tiny indistinguishable vocal cut-up snippets. If you don’t like politics in your music, you’ll be relieved that it doesn’t get in the way here.
The grime comparisons are even more prominent in tracks like “Bunker”, where guest vocal lines from Shannen talk about guns and bombs and other nouns repeatedly heard in grime tracks. But unlike some other MC’s, whose constant lines about weapons feels like it’s a smoke mask in front of a middle class suburban lifestyle, this material has very believable credentials, and feels real. This means that I find myself wishing there was a bit more exposition in these lyrics, and simply more of them- which is unusual, as with grime albums I’m more likely to find myself wishing for an instrumental version as the production normally outweighs the rap.
Other highlights include the sheer cinematic drama shared by opener “Retaliation” and the urgency-building “Intercept”. The measured chaos of “Immortal”, which shifts well away from the traditional cool minimalism into a frantic array of siren-like synths and panic, shows off the breadth on display, juxtaposed as it is against the pseudo-ballad of following track “Mother”. Across the board there’s just a little bit more weirdness than you might expect- with the sidechained throbbing and bubbling sounds of “Arms Deal” an example of the genuine oddity threaded through the production.
The overall result is yet another perfect fit for the Hyperdub label- bass-rich, sharply produced, EQ-navigating electronica that suits both chin-stroking and hip-shaking in equal measure. Top notch.