Words by: Andy Beta

In dance music, small and localized scenes rarely stay intact for long. The favela sound of funk carioca, once picked up by Diplo, spread well beyond Rio; moombahton quickly left DC and grew into a worldwide sound; and after decades underground, Chicago footwork became a global force. That Lisbon’s Príncipe label has nurtured the vibrant and febrile batida scene rising from the city’s African immigrant community for over seven years while keeping its rhythmic sensibilities intact—and undiluted—is remarkable. Providing a nexus where African rhythms like kuduro, batida, kizomba, funaná, and tarraxinha can intermingle with house and techno, they’ve made plenty of fans: Thom Yorke has repped for DJ Nigga Fox, labels like Warp and Lit City Trax have put out batida records, and last year Nídia produced the frenetic “IDK About You” for Fever Ray’s Plunge. This sound remains as wildly innovative and compelling as it was at the start, with the label’s roster having been allowed to mature and evolve without any pressure from the outside world. That isolation can be a double-edged sword: The music’s spikiness can seem baffling to outsiders and casual listeners. But Paz & Amor, the label’s 23rd release, might be one of the best gateways it has opened yet for newcomers to explore this peculiar Afro-European sound.

Of Cape Verdean descent, DJ Lilocox has been affiliated with the Príncipe imprint since 2013, both as part of the Piquenos DJs Do Guetto collective and the duo Casa Da Mãe Produções, but Paz & Amor marks his first proper solo release. The five-track EP presents the most formidable iteration of batida to date; it’s a release that retains all the show-stopping muscle and grace of DJ Nigga Fox’s Crânio from a few months ago with a streamlined approach that might be more readily embraced in house, bass, and techno circles. In just a handful of tracks, Lilocox shows off a wide array of styles, revealing how thrilling batida can be when melded to modern dancefloor sensibilities, without losing one iota of its livewire energy.

“Vozes Ricas” puts Lilocox’s rollercoaster polyrhythms front and center, a tumble of shakers, rattles, claves, and barrel-sized toms topped by pressure-ratcheting tympanum rolls. Lurking behind all these thundering beats are the title’s “rich voices,” a dark and tumultuous choir that Lilocox slides and stretches around an array of shifting rhythmic patterns.

That push and pull—between tension, drama, heightened emotion, and rhythmic release—is dance music’s métier, but batida’s dizzying beats can sometimes obscure that sense of play. It takes the steeliest of DJs to slip the music of Nigga Fox or DJ Firmeza into a set, as most of their productions move as predictably as spilled BBs on a dancefloor. Lilocox is well versed in tricky styles like funaná and tarraxinha, but Paz showcases his ability to pull also from tribal house, South African gqom, even Brazilian samba, and make them all cohere. The tough and skeletal “Ritmos e Melodias” has the fidgety buzz of gqom and the slipperiness of UK funky, but Lilocox makes it yield to his syncopated thwacks. “Fronteiras”—with its glowing synth chords, flecks of piano, and crackling percussion—rides a house groove that brings to mind Ron Trent’s classic Prescription sides: sensuous, contented, and deep.

“Samba,” per its title, builds itself up from a nimble samba pattern. But soon Lilocox fusses with it, detonating dubby drums and claps alongside a nervy bit of acoustic guitar; for the first half, he entirely forgoes the kick and the bassline. And while almost all artists on Príncipe watermark their music in some manner, branding the beat with their names in a fashion akin to DJ Mustard or DJ Khaled, Lilocox doesn’t shout out his own name until two-thirds of the way through the EP, punctuating the track before letting all the fidgeting drums take over. It’s as if to suggest that Lilocox’s batida is so distinct, so wholly his own beat, that it’s impossible to mistake him for anyone else.

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DJ Lilocox – ‘Vozes Ricas’

Caroline Whiteley: This one caught me from the first beat. While the melody doesn’t change much, the infectious percussion pattern and fervent rhythm is enough to keep the energy up. (8)

Cameron Cook: The percussion on this track is completely incredible. New world, old world, everybody came to this party ready to shed their colonial shackles and dance the night away. There’s something almost spiritual to it, to be honest. Not super familiar with Lilocox but I’ll be keeping my ears peeled. (7.5)

Jesse Bernard: While DJ Lilocox has done away with his need to use a bassline, the expansive use of percussion on Vozes Ricas (rich voices) adds a depth and vibrancy that a traditional bassline would give. Each drum used has a specific purpose and it’s this level of thought that makes this so refreshingly good to hear. (9)

Michelle Lhooq: In a way that reminds me of a solid techno roller, Lilocox’ simple, repetitive drum pattern pushes you to pay attention to gradual textural shifts and buried details as the track blooms into a lush percussive field. Not quite transcendent, but still masterful. (7.5)

OVERALL SCORE = 8

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DJ Marfox is the alias of Marlon Silva, the protagonist of Lisbon’s bubbling Afro-Portuguese electronic music scene. He first connected with music in the early 2000s when he heard Kuduro artist DJ Nervoso playing at a party, and left feeling inspired to begin producing his own music. “If I hadn’t witnessed that, perhaps I wouldn’t be here today,” he said in an earlier interview with Thump. He soon learned the basics of FruityLoops and teamed up with high school friends DJ Nervoso, DJ Nk, DJ Fofuxo, DJ Jesse, and DJ Pausas as DJs Do Ghetto, throwing parties around the city before issuing DJs do Ghetto Vol. I, a 37-track digital compilation shining a light on the local artists. This marked the beginnings of Lisbon’s batida movement, the sounds of which incorporate African-influenced dance music such as kuduro, kizomba, funaná, and tarraxinha with traditional house and techno. Those involved invariably came from working-class backgrounds and used cheap, but accessible software.

Silva began working as Marfox around this period, the alias a combination of his first initial and Star Fox 64, his favorite Nintendo 64 sci-fi shoot-em-up game. He uploaded several tracks via YouTube and some music blogs before releasing 2011’s Eu Sei Quem Sou, a debut EP via fledgling Príncipe Discos. Further releases soon came, as did booking requests from all over the world. DJ Marfox and his homegrown sound were on the rise—and this international acclaim has only continued to grow, evidenced by Warp’s 2015 Cargaa series, aimed directly at highlighting the “cream-of-the-crop purveyors of Lisbon’s thrilling electronic dance scene.”

Silva still resides in Lisbon but his name is known far beyond the city’s borders. He’s performed at some key festivals around the world, from Unsound and CTM, MoMA PS1 Warm Up Series, and Red Bull Festival in New York to Novas Frequências in Rio de Janeiro and Nyege Nyege in Uganda. Touring with reasonable frequency, he’s a purveyor of an intense but rhythmic blend of percussive techno that bears great reference to his batida roots, and his podcast for XLR8R provides a snapshot of this sound with 60 minutes of exhilarating grooves.

What have you been up to recently?
Besides traveling for shows, I’ve been going out a bit to listen to other national and international DJs, and also been focusing on listening to the new music coming from Cabo Verde.

When and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded in my home studio, where everything starts but nothing gets finished!

What equipment did you record it on?
I used two Pioneer DJ XDJ-1000MK2 and a Pioneer DJM-750 MK2 Mixer.

How did you select the tracks that you included?
It was a balanced selection of tracks, including a harmonious sequence of my old and new tracks, and of other colleagues in the Príncipe label.

Was there a particular idea or mood you were looking to convey?
It’s always about wanting to make the mix as powerful as possible—something that people can still listen to it in 10 years and find it super fresh.

Can we expect some more material from you soon?
Yes, I’m working on a new EP, but I’m still trying to figure out the right journey to offer to listeners.

What else have you got coming up?
What I can advise but not disclose is that you keep your ears out for the new records to be released on Príncipe because there’s a lot of very good stuff coming out.

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Erratum: Lilocox is Casal de Cambra-based, not Manchester.

Words by: Madison Bloom

On DJ Lilocox’s latest single, “Vozes Ricas” (“rich voices” in Portuguese) there is very little in the way of actual vocals. Instead, the Manchester-based, Portugal-born producer crafts a new, stirring language with an expansive palette of percussion. “Vozes Ricas” is the lead single from Lilocox’s debut EP for Príncipe Discos, Paz & Amor, and it affirms his ability to make thoughtful dance music without so much as a word—or even a bassline.

The types of drums punctuating “Vozes Ricas” are too numerous to categorize, and they ricochet off each other like rubber bullets fired at cement walls. A few distinct beats ring out, however, from floor toms, congas, and sizzling crash cymbals, their chaotic conversation resembling a heated debate between a dozen politicians. In the background, pulses of synths and 8-bit chirps try to butt into the conversation, but the rhythm section maintains the most compelling component, suggesting fierce and free motion. “Vozes Ricas” may be a wordless song, but DJ Lilocox’s repertoire of rhythms speaks volumes.

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Vinyl 12″ / Digital
Written and produced by P. Adrix;
Mastered by Tó Pinheiro da Silva, Artwork by Márcio Matos;
Released May, 2018;

VINYL/DIGITAL: Order from us

A1 – Vozes Ricas
A2 – Ritmo & Melodias
B1 – Paz & Amor
B2 – Samba
B3 – Fronteiras

PRESS RELEASE

The sprawling ambience we hear throughout “Paz & Amor” unveils the present stage of the fascinating aesthetic progression Lilocox has been sharing with the world ever since this Eurochild of Cape Verdean descent started to produce his original music. Lilocox comes out in open field, with a lot more space, building the groove around complex rhythm grids now unfolding peacefully. He scored a bouncier underground hit with “La Party” back in 2015, coming from a background of intricate batida drum patterns but his sights reached further and further away into deeper territory.

“Ritmos E Melodias” seems to split into two parallel tracks at some point with the house beat balanced by a background rattle more commonly associated with the slower tarraxo vibes. “Samba” is fully-formed from the very beginning but the kick only comes in around the 2-minute mark, joining a bleepy substitute for a bassline. In fact, you will find this music practically does away with the need for a bassline because the rhythm inventions keep the feet moving effortlessly. It might seem strange that a genre seemingly rooted in classic house can stay focused on the dancefloor without a bassline, but the skeleton of these tracks is naturally strong and provides all the necessary ground for ambience and melody to shine.

And they do shine universally on “Fronteiras”, an intensely emotional and catchy tune WITH a bassline, though very discrete and minimal. It follows the beat more or less independently, but its presence helps to consolidate the human bond we should all feel when exposed to these celestial harmonies. “Fronteiras” seems to contradict its very title.

Vinyl 12″; individually hand-painted, hand-stamped copies available for the world.

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Paz E Amor, or “peace and love”, is the solo début of deep, hypnotic Batida grooves by DJ Lilocox. A longtime core member of Lisbon’s Príncipe label, Lilocox is one third of the PDDG (Piquenos DJs Do Guetto) crew beside DJs Firmeza and Maboku, and accounts for half of CDM (Casa Da Mãe), also with Maboku. In solo mode Lilocox alloys sensuous atmospheres with rolling percussion in a widely appealing style that resonates with the slickness of the Sonhos & Pesadelos LP by his near namesake, DJ Lycox, but personalised by more spacious production values and a rugged vision of dancefloor romance and energy.
With the CDM project on hold for now, DJ Lilocox presents a more mature sound now characterised by his focus on rhythmelodic cadence and synthetic sensuality. Between the EP’s lusting highlight in the Ron Trent-esque Afrohouse of Fronteiras, to the starker, Gqom-Like tension of Ritmo e Melodias, Lilocox plays to the ‘floor’s timeless needs in a ruggedly forward manner, deftly shifting his weight from a pendulous footing of Vozes Ricas to the woodblock knocks and drones of Paz e Amor and the snake-hipped swinge of Samba with the dancer’s balance and emotions always a priority.
After the scorching début EP from P. Adrix, the first solo DJ Lilocox record perfectly demonstrates his depth and diversity whilst maintaining Príncipe’s rarely paralleled and flawless reputation for the freshest, timelessly effective dance music.

Boomkat, May 2018

On DJ Lilocox’s latest single, “Vozes Ricas” (“rich voices” in Portuguese) there is very little in the way of actual vocals. Instead, the Manchester-based, Portugal-born producer crafts a new, stirring language with an expansive palette of percussion. “Vozes Ricas” is the lead single from Lilocox’s debut EP for Príncipe Discos, Paz & Amor, and it affirms his ability to make thoughtful dance music without so much as a word—or even a bassline.
The types of drums punctuating “Vozes Ricas” are too numerous to categorize, and they ricochet off each other like rubber bullets fired at cement walls. A few distinct beats ring out, however, from floor toms, congas, and sizzling crash cymbals, their chaotic conversation resembling a heated debate between a dozen politicians. In the background, pulses of synths and 8-bit chirps try to butt into the conversation, but the rhythm section maintains the most compelling component, suggesting fierce and free motion. “Vozes Ricas” may be a wordless song, but DJ Lilocox’s repertoire of rhythms speaks volumes.

Pitchfork track review, May 2018

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