Even in the eccentric and forward-thinking Portuguese electronic underground, Normal Nada stands out. His freaky mutations of West African kuduro and batida throw rules out the DJ booth, and they’re more exciting for it. Despite the fact that he’s been creating havoc for nearly a decade, now is the first time we’ve been treated to a full album. Released on Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes, who specialise in freeform outsider music, Tribal Progressive Heavy Metal is one of the wildest releases you’ll hear all year.
Jarring inversions of kuduro and tarraxinha are made even more chaotic with electronic drones and relentless polyrhythms. Take the club-ready ‘Batida Hard Trance 2’ – a dizzying track that spends its final minute with a blearing synth raging through the speakers like we’ve set off the fire alarm with body heat. The fusion of ambient and intense synth stabs on ‘Batida 2 Dance’ gives the most unhinged Argentinian baile funk competition with its profane approach to mixing.
It’s an uncompromising sound, and Normal Nada knows it. That’s part of the joy. ‘Alive’ is as cacophonous and euphoric as the record gets, with its relentlessly looped samples and machine gun snare rolls, all which sound like the machinery is being pushed past breaking point. Oddly, the track fizzles out without much fanfare.
Here and throughout, the record’s sketchbook approach is a double-edged sword. Without it, you wouldn’t have such a gloriously mad sound. But when the ear fatigue sets in, you wish for more structure. Still, Normal Nada proves he can do introspective. On the closer, he delivers a stunning off-world tarraxinha cut that slows the tempo to a quiet meditation. It’s a cooling balm after 30 minutes of heat.