Off the back of a recent, highly acclaimed tribute to Prince, Lisbon’s Serpente (at one point known as Ondness) moves to Ecstatic Recordings. Their debut for the label, Fé / Vazio, straddles the disparate worlds of Sixties-era jazz and modern dance music sub-genres like IDM and broken beat.
Limited Vinyl LP £16.99 ELP051
Blue vinyl LP on Ecstatic Recordings. Edition of 300 copies.
- Coloured vinyl
- Limited edition
- Only 2 copies left
To start off with I must commend Serpente on what is surely one of the year’s best album covers. I could look at it all day.
It’s probably because they share Lisbon as their hometown but I’m having a hard time not thinking about Príncipe as I listen to ‘Fé / Vazio’. These tracks aren’t built for the dancefloor, but there’s something in the way that Serpente composes for percussion that feels similar, and it’s more than just emphasising the off beat. Like Nídia and DJ Lycox there’s a looseness to the drums that sounds incredibly expressive and personal. That looseness is taken to the nth degree by Serpente whose tracks feel much closer to the controlled chaos of Autechre.
Take ‘Em Sendo’, the track is constantly on the verge of a breakbeat. Across its length it hints that it’s going to evolve into something structured but never does, Serpente teasing our impatient assumptions. ‘Fé / Vazio’ ends with ‘Escalpe’ whose quiet sighing synths and rattling drums are surprisingly broody.
‘Visitação’ is built on a fidgety kick drum and more fidgety bass but Serpente gentle rations out the occasional high hat or snare hit that act like rocket fuel, propelling the track on as it meanders. They’re so potent because they’re surprising. Serpente’s structures are playful, but I wish the sonic palette was more so. Part of the pleasure of Príncipe is the brightness and variety to the sounds. ‘Fé / Vazio’ is undoubtedly meant to be a subdued record (that wonderful artwork is hardly vivid), but I don’t think the occasional shock intervention would get in the way of that.
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