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Nídia - Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes Music Album Reviews

The Lisbon batida producer’s second LP is more spacious than her hard-charging debut, but infused with ambivalent emotion; the ghosts of good times seem to hover anxiously in the wings.

On her debut LP, 2017’s Nídia é Má, Nídia é Fudida, Nídia sounded tough and triumphant, firing out knotty batida rhythms and piercing melodies with the pluck of a newcomer. Batida, a salmagundi of styles circulating through the Afro-Lusophone diaspora, and a sound closely associated with Lisbon’s Príncipe label, was still finding its footing on an international stage. Two years earlier, Nídia had joined the label when she was just 18 years old, building on the style as it had been established by pioneers like DJ Marfox and DJ Nigga Fox. After a long stint living in Bordeaux, Nídia has returned to Lisbon; Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes is one of three new records produced in her bedroom studio there. But unlike her hard-charging debut LP, this one is a breezy collection of mid-tempo tracks, clocking in at just 29 minutes.
With their spacious arrangements and shuddering, 808-style bass blasts, the 10 tracks owe more to rap and grime instrumentals, or the street sounds of the global South, than they do to the heat and frenzy of the club. (The title, taken from a poem by Jorge de Sena, roughly translates as, “Don’t talk about her or you’ll end up lying about her.”) Nídia’s approach to sound is efficient and elemental, taking recognizable material—hand claps, crash cymbals, plasticky brass—and creating complexity through arrangement rather than signal manipulation. She paints in bold, black lines before filling in the gaps with heavy pigments. On “capacidades,” a distorted voice pops up like a cartoon speech bubble, chanting “Go! Go! Go!” as the beat topples forward. On “rap-tentativa,” the rhythm is spelled out like a schoolyard clapping game while a pair of two-note melodies circle each other like a team chant.

The track titles read like hastily chosen placeholders—“popo,” “intro,” “RAP-complet”—as if they’ve come from a sample pack of “Nídia-Type-Beats” for prospective MCs. That doesn’t necessarily reflect on their contents; the interplay of breathy flute and twanged strings on “popo,” for instance, provides enough narrative without the need for human input. But other tracks do seem to be making space for a guest who never shows up, whether it’s a vocalist or simply a further development of melody or dynamics.

Nídia exits the stage with a reverse fanfare on “emotions.” Sad stubs of synth brass blare out over hand claps and hi-hats, like a negative sheet for some mid-’00s Southern rap hit. The ghosts of good times seem to hover in the wings. In fact, Nídia often finds her way to a minor key or a dissonant triad, upsetting her upbeat rhythms with a shred of nervous energy. On a two-track 7" released in tandem with this album, there’s more of this happy-sad, stop-go mood, as growling basslines square up to pretty pianos. Such complications are fundamental to the Príncipe universe, where tensions are left unresolved.

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