Angolan-Belgian producer and Hyperdub signee, Nazar, quietly self-released his latest EP Territorial on Bandcamp earlier this month, bringing onboard South African gqom producer, Citizen Boy, and Manchester-based Portuguese producer, A.K. Adrix, for the collaborative project, as well as featuring remixes by DJ ADAMM, Scratchclart and Slikback.
Growing up in Belgium in the shadow of the Angolan civil war, the now Manchester-based Nazar channels his experience through a number of musical styles and genres, including his self-dubbed genre of ‘Rough Kuduro’, a twist on the traditional Angolan style of music that sidelines its usual upbeat energy in favor of exploring the harsher realities of the current social and political climate of Angola. This latest project sees Nazar further exploring the sounds of Gqom, Batida and Kuduro in his signature blown-out, percussion and bass-heavy style, laying somewhere on the edge between firmly rooted in musical tradition and the cutting edge contemporary dance music.
Kicking off with ‘Clan’, surging distorted bass lines and intense rhythmic staccatos immediately establish an ominous, corrugated atmosphere amongst distorted vocal samples that rip into the mix with little warning or softened blows amongst siren-like synthesizer riffs and speaker-rattling sub-bass. If hyperventilation could be translated into music, ‘Clan’ is what it would probably sound like, in an almost anxiety-inducing flurry.
‘2 African Sickos’ ft. Citizen Boy takes things down an even darker rabbit hole through intricately chopped and arranged gunshot samples, downpitched rhythmic chanting and abrasive sound design that fills every corner of the mix. Ominous bass synthesizer riffs build the tension as a laser-gun-like main lead is introduced during the last third of the track, which lead in smoothly to track three, ‘Omalã Vo Feka,’ featuring A.K Adrix, who joins fresh off the release of his album Código de Barras (worth a full listen in it’s own right) on Portoguese label Principé.
By far the most dancefloor-friendly offerings on Territorial come in the form of DJ ADAMM and Scratchclart’s remixes of ‘2 Afrikan Sickos’, the latter of which brings a infectiously funky bounce to the gqom intensity of Nazar and Citizen Boy’s original mix, switching out the surging laser-gun like central synth in favor of a more melodically inclined arrangement.
Kenyan producer Slikback closes off the EP with a massive reworking of ‘Clan’, dispelling the gqom influence in favor of an almost heavy-metal like intensity with it’s thundering main riff and bursts of white noise and rolling 808 hi-hats.
In the Bandcamp description for Territorial, Nazar included this statement:
Territorial (EP) came from an urgent need to showcase unfiltered talent coming from me and my black peers connected the continent.The primary purpose is to generate raw, unrestricted energy. The clubs are still on hiatus but not our drive to bend, push, cross and distorted genres and subgenres of music that share the same genetic material.
At the end of day, we all are "omalã vo feka" (which means sons of this land, Africa in Umbundu).