Photo: Manuel Lino / Courtesy of Crammed Discs

Batida Features Lusophone Luminaries on Boldly Transnational ‘Neon Colonialismo’

These sounds are some of Batida’s most dramatic to date as Neon Colonialismo is made for hot, dark nights of the best kind.

Neon Colonialismo
Crammed Discs
21 October 2022

Working under the moniker Batida, producer Pedro Coqueñao has spent more than a decade tracing musical connections primarily across the Lusophone world. Born in Angola and based in Lisbon, Batida’s work has long featured fellow artists from both places and beyond, focusing on countering histories of colonialism, extraction, and enslavement with creative collaboration projects. The new album Neon Colonialismo is a thoughtful, profoundly complex addition to the Batida catalog, in which the producer expands his circle even wider with a global slate of talented, genre-crossing guests who add their timbres to Batida’s sonic universe of electrified dub, dance, and transnational beats.

Essentially, Batida treats Angola as a stylistic base, the site at the heart of so much of his musical journey and key to the expressions across his tracks. Neon Colonialismo continues this pattern, opening with “Bem Vindo”, for which Batida teams up with Luanda-based DJ Satelite. Mixing quick percussion and call-and-response vocal samples over plugged-in dub beats, they get the album off to a lively start. On “Hmmm”, Batida engages even more deeply with Angolan popular music forms and the snarls of Portuguese colonial histories by looping wordless vocals and swaying guitars from legendary Angolan singer-songwriter Bonga’s 1972 pro-independence track “Mona Ki Ngi Xica” over simmering layers of lively percussion. Multimedia artist Nástio Mosquito adds a serious edge to the lounge-ready zest of “Farramanta”. Semba superstars João Morgado and Botto Trindade bring more retro Angolan sounds in dialogue with ultramodern EDM beats on “Sou Eu!” and “Batida Botto”, respectively, a further enmeshing between places and presences.

Expanding the world are featured guests like Cabo Verdean singer Mayra Andrade, whose gliding vocals make playful “Bom Bom” a breathtaking, bossa nova-tinged earworm. Globetrotting multi-talent Poté brings his finely honed production skills to “Ah!”, an open and hypnotically rhythmic single. Batida’s IKOQWE collaborator Ikonoklasta raps with typically quirky fire on “Sr. Mandão”, a sweepingly cinematic track that also features the dizzying chops of Lisbon production duo Octa Push and Brazilian mangue pioneer DJ Dolores. DJ Dolores also lends his skills to “Tem Dor (Africa de Itamaracá)”, on which famed singer and cirandeira Lia de Itamaracá conjures up the routes between Africa and Brazil in the form of soothing track. The album ends with Buraka Som Sistema’s Branko turning “Eléctrico” into a hefty storm of reggaetón, folk drums, and dancefloor effects.

The sounds are some of Batida’s most dramatic to date; Neon Colonialismo is made for hot, dark nights of the best kind. Underlying the club-ready bangers, meanwhile, is Batida’s ongoing mission of creative anti-colonialism, here taking the form of transatlantic sounds that flow together with irresistible force. Back on the 2014 album Dois, Batida included a warning at the beginning of the track “Fica Atento!”: “Africa, including Angola, they must make sure that they are not part of a new colonialism.”

On Neon Colonialismo, Batida reiterates his ideals not only through word but through production, forging sonic connections that highlight unequal power structures and the musical styles that have emerged often in spite of them with exciting results. It may not quite signal the end of colonial legacies, but Neon Colonialismo never shies away from the issues therein. Rather, it’s Batida embracing the bold in sound and philosophy with new resolve.

RATING 8 / 10