Holy Tongue ⟡ Gala Drop

Galeria Zé dos Bois

Holy Tongue
Gala Drop ©Sara Graça

Holy Tongue

A duo that has since been transformed into a trio, Holy Tongue is yet another of the miracles to come out of Valentina Magaletti’s hands. If in recent years the multifaceted percussionist has made a name for herself both for her solo work and her countless collaborations, the ground she walks on now seems as fertile as ever. The language of her technique, together with the vision of someone who sees no horizons, make each adventure, each album or each performance small excerpts from a story that is being written at this very moment. Tomaga, Moin, Better Corners or Vanishing Twin are just some of Magaletti’s many incarnations – in a long list that is still being drawn up. In Holy Tongue he commands a tribal, dub-inspired beat and the possible intersections with the coordinates left by some post-punk fringe. Alongside Al Woolton (the electronic and sampling boss) and Susumu Mukai (on strings, and with Jah Wobble in his soul), he forms an excellent triangulation of talent and originality.

There is tension, breath and good idleness in these designs. The reverberations of a smoky Jamaica flirting with sonic machinery recall the marvellous incursions of good people like New Age Steppers, ESG or African Head Charge. However, the material is even purer on Holy Tongue; winding directions, vertiginous at times, in which the rawness of each element leads to the promise of a futuristic primitivism. Where others seek ascension, here the fire is stoked at low heat. Sprinkle the flames with shamanism and sci-fi symbolism when necessary – and other worlds and other dances emerge.

Deliverance and Spiritual Warfare landed in 2023 as a bizarre and magnetic object, in one of the most inspired encounters of the year. It comes after a brilliant trilogy of EPs in the past, essential pieces for what was to come. A hypnotic disc like few others of its time, full of imagination and invention. An obligatory listen from a band (let’s not call them a project) that has found the spirit of the Caribbean among the concrete of the city. Live, the trio gains muscle and the creative dynamic you feel on disc naturally leaps off the stage. To witness. NA

Gala Drop

Formed in 2004 by Nélson Gomes and Tiago Miranda, Gala Drop have undergone various mutations over the course of almost two decades, much in keeping with the continually changing nature of their sound. From those early days, on their knees and eyes on the ground in front of an armada of pedals, from which they erected long sessions of drone spiritism, an exploratory sense and a hallucinatory aura still remain today, but the music is markedly different. At this point, the arrival of Afonso Simões to the band in 2006 is crucial, bringing a whole rhythmic pulse that lifts the band to a whole wealth of uncharted possibilities and to find the coordinates that have mapped their instincts ever since: the space and echoes of dub, polyrhythms of various heritages from the African continent, the cosmic crossings of kösmiche, the beat of original house and techno and the reflections of living in Lisbon. The eponymous debut album, released in 2008, is still today a fundamental milestone in this labour and the foundation for the band’s future steps.

With the addition of Guilherme Gonçalves on guitar and synthesiser, the EP Overcoat Heat (Golf Channel, 2010) was recorded, clearly revealing the band’s more danceable impulses, informed by dreams of the Balearics and disco. After the departure of Tiago Miranda, the band expanded into a quintet with the addition of Rui Dâmaso on bass and Jerry the Cat on vocals and percussions, and it was in this form that they recorded Broda with Ben Chasny tcp Six Organs of Admittance. A disc released in 2012 that invokes the ecstasy of Santana’s early albums or the more electrified moments of Funkadelic. With an umbilical connection to Detroit via Jerry the Cat, Theo Parrish’s expatriate collaborator living in Lisbon.

Two years later and with this line-up solidified, II was released, an album that featured Jerry the Cat’s voice for the first time and where this whole universe of references was brought to life in progressively more memorable and concise songs. With the band embarking on a tour of concerts and Maria Reis and Guilherme Canhão taking over the guitar after Guilherme Gonçalves left, it was a long wait of eight years – mediated by the release of Live at Boom on Holuzam, containing an hour of unreleased music – before their third studio album appeared. Based on the hard core formed by Nélson Gomes, Afonso Simões and Rui Dâmaso, following the departure of Jerry the Cat, Amizade lives up to its name in a celebration with a panoramic view but never dispersed over the vast cartography that the band has explored with singular intent and flexibility. With trio work naturally fostering a more organic and succinct understanding of the potential of the Gala Drop sound, Amizade – recorded at a residency promoted by gnration in Braga – unfolds in seven concise, meticulously crafted but never forced tracks, made up of synth cascades, liquid bass lines, lots of percussion on a fine line between organic and electronic, echoes, paused guitars and an exhilarating feeling that radiates.

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