After exploring the tropical Sade-esque aspirations of Frank Harris & Maria Marquez and the sophisticated synth-pop Australia’s Arvo, Antipodean record label Strangelove return to where their journey began in 2018 with a 12″ from Lena D’Água; Portugal. And oh boy, their new release Electricidade Estética makes for a very sweet full-circle. If you like drum machines, vocoders, synthesisers, vocal processing, and field recordings – which you probably do – you’re in for quite the treat.
The project of journalist and musician António Duarte, and fellow musician (and performance artist) Manuela Duarte, DWART emerged out of Portugal’s avant-garde and arts scenes in the early 80s. Soon enough, duo performances in art galleries and clubs quickly gave way to recordings created with assistance from Vítor Rua & Jorge Lima Barreto (of Telectu), composer and guitarist Nuno Rebelo, and guitarist and singer Bernardo Devlin.
Electricidade Estética collects up nine recordings from their early days, a mixture of unreleased material and a remastered version of their cult anthem ‘Mate’, a weightless vocoder-soul jam that could very quickly change your life. On side A, ‘Mate’ is followed by ‘Synesthesia (Live)’, a bubbly rhythmic-ambient number, that through title and tonal qualities, hints at DWART’s collective aspirations.
Ostensibly, António and Manuela were dreaming up experimental synth-pop in the Baleric and Iberian traditions. But coming from the art world, they strived to create a closer relationship between sound and visuals – musical performance as performance art. Fittingly, the rest of the Electricidade Estética collection cycles between quirky, dancefloor-friendly grooves (‘Electro Maga’, ‘Swing Da Rocinha’) and more environmental, ambient-ended expression pieces (‘Aqua Alta’, ‘Po Das Estrelas’, and others), making for a rather lovely listen that evokes the spirit of the era.
In 1987, António relocated to Macau, South China, where he continued to work as a journalist, and DWART continued to make music. In local karaoke bars and Ghangzhou discos, they found inspiration for the Cantopop, kosmische disco, and proto-Goa trance infused dance sound they created in the late 80s and early 90s. You can hear some of those songs on the Taipei Disco EP, released through Holuzam last year.
Electricidade Estética will be released on the 20th of September through Strangelove on vinyl and digital formats (pre-order here).