PORTUGAL: Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes - Nidia
Challenging beats and rhythms are the hallmark of this experimental electro album
The sound of Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes will not be for everyone. As electronic albums go, it’s certainly on the more experimental end, and that is what makes it distinctive. You won’t find any funky beats or sampled riffs from popular nostalgic songs, rather it’s more a selection of rough, spiky tunes that rarely go the way you assume they will. The first track, Intro, is a good example of this. It sounds like the synthesiser is awakening from a slumber, testing its own keys as it gets ready for action. One could barely call it a song, and yet there it is, coming in at just over two minutes, preparing you for what is yet to come. Nidia herself is a Lisbon-based music producer, who spent time as a child living in Bordeaux where she was part of a kuduro dance group, and it is these Angolan influences that permeate her experimental electronic work, most keenly felt on this album on the track Tarraxo Do Guetto, a track that takes inspiration from and pays homage to the modern Angolan dance genre of Tarraxo. Nidia’s experimentalism and wide interest in niche genres pay dividends on this album. Though I can’t pretend I want to listen to this brand of experimental electro all the time, the boldness of the music certainly makes it interesting.
“The build up of the album is a feature that definitely makes the most out of the album format, and really does help this feel like an experience to listen to.”
The album itself seems almost like it was thrown together in an afternoon, with titles like Intro, RAP Complet, and Rap Tentativa all seeming like placeholder names for an eventual album naming. But the music itself is clearly well thought out. As mentioned above, Intro feels like a warm up, then the following song Popo goes on to add stronger instrumentation, and by the time of Nik Com, the album feels like we’re in full flow. Yes, the beats are sparse and spiky, with each song taking you on an unexpected journey of sound, but it’s in more familiar territory, with a song like Raps even having a melodic synthy hook that I rather enjoy. The build up of the album is a feature that definitely makes the most out of the album format, and really does help this feel like an experience to listen to. My favourite song out of the bunch is Capacidades, which for me acts as the most singular piece in an album that mostly coheres as a whole. It’s the only one I’ve ever listened to out of context, and it works nicely on its own terms. That said, for me this is mostly an album experience. I don’t ever dip in and out of Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes, it’s more effective listened to complete.
Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes has a lot to love, but equally I could see why people may be put off by it. Though a very short album, coming in at under half an hour, the lack of obvious melodies and hooks might not attract a casual listener who is not so enamoured with electronica. Music like this may make the most sense in a live setting, with Nidia at the decks playing these songs for a dedicated audience of electro fans. In fact, the whole build-up of the album from sparse instrumentation to richer, more complete instrumentation would nicely mirror the increase in intensity a DJ set would require. Furthermore, its experimentalism is both the reason for its success as well as the fact that I haven’t loved the album. To listen on the journey Nidia takes you on with this piece is a fascinating listening experience, but I do not find myself as emotionally engaged as I find I get with the best music, nor is it ever purely fun, but I do see how well it could work live. That’s not to knock it, but the jagged edges of the songs here do mean it challenges the listener who may be expecting more standard electronica. That said, this is not experimentation for experimentation’s sake – the album works, and it works well, and the soundscapes it creates are very impressive.