Gala Drop – Lançamento de ‘Amizade’ ⟡ Chima Hiro

Galeria Zé dos Bois

© Sara Graça
Chima Hiro

Eight years after II, a lot has changed in life. In ours, in yours, and in the Gala Drop’s own. Many times, without us realizing it, with those two years of a semi-latent existence leaving a persistent fog and the predatory gentrification changing the panorama of Lisbon that created and gives shelter and experiences to the band since always. An always that reaches almost a decade and a half, with several mutations along the way to dictate moments of pause, reflection and new perspectives of a sound that has also been mutable at its own pace and agency, guided since 2009 by the hardcore formed by Afonso Simões and Nélson Gomes. With Rui Dâmaso transitioning from II, Gala Drop are now a trio, after the departures of Jerry the Cat and Guilherme Canhão. With this triangulation bringing a focus to the band’s music, Amizade lives up to its name in a celebration with a panoramic view but never scattered over the cartography that the band has explored with singular and already patented understanding and belt game. The hypnosis and expansiveness of krautrock, the deviant space of dub, the pulsation of house, the dreams of balearic, polyrhythms of various latitudes and the communal tuning of real and still possible encounters and epiphanies in the city.

And all this vast field of knowledge reappears here again, always ready for new inspirations and turns, but in an even more succinct and channeled way to a music that, nowadays, we can only understand as Gala Drop’s. With the trio work enhancing naturally that same direction, in a residence promoted by gnration in Braga that made possible its recording, Amizade reveals all the psychedelic potential of the band in seven concise meshes, of meticulous but never forced work, made of synthesizer cascades, liquid bass lines, a lot of percussion in a fine line between the organic and the electronic, echoes, paused guitars and a joyful feeling that irradiates. Everything is revealed. Never had the band been so blatantly dubby as on ‘Midnight Dub’ and ‘Areal Dub’ nor lined up distinctive historical moments of the UK hardcore continuum – pianola in rave euphoria and cut up vocals – in a slow burner as memorable as ‘Monte do Ouro’. Or, leaving aside the collusion with Ben Chasny on Broda, unleashed the guitars in a torrent of distortion as on the narcotic woosh of ‘Flying Guitar’. ‘Friendship’ indicts it all as blissful escapism and at the end, ‘Ray’ transmutes the rhythmic meditation of the original dubstep into a funky cosmic crescendo. Hugs. Because we are increasingly in need of connection, and despite all the fog that covers these times, we can at least for now, celebrate together. This album is here for that. BS

Gala Drop

Gala Drop were originated about a decade ago in Lisbon by founding members Nelson Gomes and Tiago Miranda, making themselves known at the time in concerts at Galeria Zé dos Bois and having started a European tour playing the first parts of the North American bands Excepter and Gang Gang Dance. In 2006 drummer Afonso Simões upgraded the band to a trio and the live sound of the line-up consequently expanded, becoming more rhythmic, spatial and luminous.

In 2008 their self-titled debut album is released on the Gala Drop Records label, materializing the original proposal they had created of real-time percussion, effects processing, samples and synthesizers, where Afro-Latin rhythms and the visionary works of Lee Perry, Arthur Russell, Jon Hassell or the Can would have informed a special musical cosmology they were convinced was so.

Guitarist Guilherme Gonçalves joined the band the following year, and remarkable live experiences followed, such as the concert at the Gulbenkian Foundation’s Open Air Amphitheatre as part of the Próximo Futuro program, the European tour with Six Organs of Admittance, invitations to play the first part of Sonic Youth at the Coliseu dos Recreios and Panda Bear, of Animal Collective, to play on his night at a festival on Governor’s Island beach in New York.

In 2010 the EP ‘Overcoat Heat’ was released on Golf Channel Recordings in New York, an admirable record of the band’s creative progression and the aesthetic cohesion that the ‘real band’ offered in making dance music that one journalist described as ‘rainforest futurism’. New changes in the group’s line-up followed; Tiago’s departure was replaced by bassist Rui Dâmaso, while a chance meeting with Jerry the Cat, an illustrious Detroit native now living in Lisbon, who played live with Parliament, Funkadelic and John Lee Hooker in the 70’s, and later in the 90’s collaborated on records and live with Techno luminaries like Derrick May, Theo Parrish or Moodyman, leads him to join the band as a percussionist.

Two years later comes ‘Broda’, on the group’s label, a 12” collaboration with Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), very well received by critics and fans, that the band took as a healthy detour by the creative challenge it constituted, having rehearsed and recorded in studio in the Portuguese capital for a week with the renowned guitarist. In 2012 they embark on another European tour and end the tour with a memorable date at the club Lux Frágil, in Lisbon, on a night programmed by the band, inviting Hype Williams, Tropa Macaca, Brian DeGraw and Kyle Hall to brighten up the party. They also tour the country more than ever before and embark on a brief European and UK tour with Rangda (Chris Corsano, Ben Chasny and Sir Richard Bishop).

2013 was a year seen as one of selfless dedication to the songwriting and production work of the superb new album ‘II’, which hit the stores the following year. Considered by the band as the true long-duration successor of the debut album, ‘II’ was marked by the fact that Jerry the Cat sings in several songs and how this contributed to improve once again the authorial identity of Gala Drop.

They traveled from country to country in the following years as never before, due to the success of the album and airplay in radios, interspersed with dates in Europe in festivals and invitations to special shows like the challenge ‘100 Ra’ at Maria Matos Theater in Lisbon.

Chima Hiro

First and foremost, Chen aka Chima Hiro is a music fan. The tracks she chooses embrace a spectrum as expansive and surprising as her unassailable taste – it’s music ranging from new age to jazz, distorted beats over acid lines as much as melodious, uplifting house. His path in DJing goes hand in hand with his Quantica Radio show, Nyce & Slo, and has already led Chima Hiro to dominate the booths at some of the most exciting parties in our underground.

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