A.k.Adrix - Código de Barras Music Album Reviews

A.k.Adrix - Código de Barras Music Album Reviews
On his sophomore LP, the Manchester-based electronic producer again pushes batida into hazy new territory with an unusually subdued interpretation of the sound of his native Lisbon.

Unlike the howling sirens that opened A.k.Adrix’s debut, the chaotic and aggressive Album Desconhecido, the Portugese electronic producer’s second LP begins, instead, with a deep breath: tender “ooh-oohs,” delicate piano trills, and syncopated beats that crackle like static. It’s soothing, and by almost every measure, a surprise. Adrix and the record label Príncipe Discos are closely affiliated with batida, the raucous, electric, turbulent sound that booms throughout nightclubs and block parties in Lisbon’s projects and slums. The style tends to explode with urgency and defiance, but Código de Barras is considerably less extreme, smoothing the sharp edges to an after-hours sheen. It’s a notable albeit curious departure from batida’s thunderous, disruptive core, but such mutations are inevitable in hyper-local strands of dance music. Besides, it’s captivating to hear this sound rendered with such melody and warmth.
Adrix, formerly known as P. Adrix, was never a purist anyway. A Lisbon native of Angolan descent, he moved to Manchester, England at the age of 19, in 2015, and soon began incorporating elements of the UK underground into his Afro-Portugese palette. Album Desconhecido, released three years later, connected disparate traditions, intermingling kuduro, kizomba, and zouk with grime, jungle, and drum’n’bass. On Codigo de Barras, which translates to “bar code,” he continues this evolution, bending batida’s feverish rhythms into dense, hypnotic atmospheres. Using sleek synths, sensuous soundscapes, and playful polyrhythms that bubble and shake rather than clang and collide, he reveals a groovier side to batida—one that casual listeners can more easily sink their teeth into.

Accessibility was not always the point. Príncipe’s releases are often dizzyingly complex, a signal to outsiders’ ears that this particular Afro-club hybrid is an inherently local sound. Core catalog cuts like Puto Tito’s “Melodia Daquelas” or DJ Marfox’s “2685” harness free-form energies, with spiky synths and spiraling flutes that ricochet aimlessly, while Nídia’s S/T sounds almost militantly percussive. Preserving this dissentient spirit has been important to the label, a way to show respect to the immigrant communities who have cultivated batida in response to Portugal’s racial tensions and colonial past. As Nídia told the New York Times in 2018: “When something comes from the ghetto, it can’t come softly.” 

So how do Codigo de Barras’ pastel sketches fit into this bold-type mission? The answer appears to be in the shading. Despite their relative softness, these short, experimental songs are able to stimulate more nuanced emotions than brasher iterations of batida ever could: restlessness, suspicion, mischievousness, delight. Adrix seems curious about aggression’s limitations; what else might you hear, or feel, if you lowered the volume? His heady, inquisitive compositions, each hovering between two and three minutes, feel like attempts to fill in the edges. The balmy “Positividades” evokes an almost beachy atmosphere, melting syncopated rhythms into the surrounding synths. “Ambient Spirituale” and “Espuma Nocturna,” meanwhile, are dusky vignettes that turn inward, conjuring images of the natural world in gusts, ripples, and chirps. The laid-back pulse of “Ritmo Surfista” (“Surfer Rhythm”) finds a companion in “FL Studio, Obrigado,” a tune with flute-like synths and maracas that sounds like something you’d hear in a thatched-hut retreat. In these moments, it’s possible to forget the unbridled tension that typifies Príncipe’s lineup and consider batida in a more relaxed context.

The album’s highlights, however, arrive in songs that leverage that unique tension into something exciting and new. “X50” is an irresistible, off-kilter, chopped-up club banger with an energy that belies its rhythmic complexity. And “Desenhos Animados” (“Cartoons”) is a revelation—a minimal symphony of woodwind melodies and asymmetrical beats that sounds at once precise and wholly spontaneous. Occasionally, it’s hard not to feel like something has been lost—bite, rebelliousness, a sense of rage—as Adrix has drifted further from batida’s boisterous center. But even if dissent is no longer his driving creative force, his curiosity is palpable. Innovative, left-field interpretations like this will propel the sound forward.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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A.k.Adrix - Código de Barras Music Album Reviews A.k.Adrix - Código de Barras Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, November 23, 2020 Rating: 5

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