You think of Rome as the oldest but how many places are older? How many parts of this rock were home to humans before humans knew what to think of themselves? Take Lisbon, a city so “before” that its early history can only be described with a lot of prefixes: pre-Roman, pre-Celtic, pre-recorded names. We think it was called Allis Ubbo once—”safe harbor”, in Phoenician. But we don’t know.
I love the old spots: the stone temples hidden under sand, the ornate cathedrals rising up from old clay. If you ever need to be reminded that human life was quiet once, go stand in a building that’s at least five times as old as the oldest relative you remember.
‘Tiempo’ by D I T O (Lisbon, Portugal)
We’ve got a pair of music-makers from Lisbon this morning: one quiet and steady like the ancient stuff, one brash and bright like the new. We’ll start with the subtle. Lisbon’s D I T O is in no rush at all. The anonymous producer hunts down brambly loops to prick holes in his crystalline walls of sound. Part hair, part teeth, D I T O’s few public tracks move between textural extremes.
Technically, D I T O has an EP out. It’s called Holly, and it’s over in five minutes. The rest that he’s made over the past year is contained in three songs. For once, I can admire just how unprolific a bedroom producer is. These tracks feel careful, warm, composed. D I T O meters out the sounds that fill his mind without the scramble and anxiety that usually plagues new and buried producers. We feel like we’re slacking if we don’t feed the Soundcloud every week. Maybe it’d be better if we didn’t.
Backseat Love Songs by MAU (Lisbon, Portugal)
Maybe Lisbon doesn’t mind not keeping up. Maybe the internet hasn’t afflicted the city with the American (and perhaps English) plague of “everything all of the time”. Even the brash and biting MAU is only working up to their second LP in three years.
‘Cheetah’, the first single off an album due out this month, seems the result of a honed ear for warm liquid synthesizers. Compared to the band’s debut, Backseat Love Songs, ‘Cheetah’ flings its melodies down sweeter channels. Itchy beats squirm under coruscating pads, while a chewed-up falsetto deftly navigates the hook.
MAU may have grown from that open-mouthed cyber-tiger that shatters the cover of their first record, but Backseat Love Songs definitely demands a gander or three. After all, its track list boasts songs like ‘Love is Cancer, Love is Yay!’. Swung a little further towards the dance-punk wall, MAU’s early work conjures up a chemistry that’s part Prince, part The Faint, part Passion Pit. It’s loud, it’s garish, it doesn’t apologize for it.
Hey look, travelers; there’s a comment box down there. Somewhere you’d like to go? @Sashageffen