From Hospital Productions, a label that’s earned its reputation through dealing in the bleakest of techno, comes a highly spirited, vibrant release — at least on the surface. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to conceive that the vivacious pulse binding together Ninos Du Brasil’s Novos Mistérios has anything to do with the man behind Vatican Shadow and Prurient. But listen intently and Dominick Fernow’s musical influence can be felt in the afterglow, bubbling beneath both the album’s fiery aesthetic and its circulation. In this context, the album’s darker tones evoke an unnerving, festering edge, resulting in a highly stylized, malignant effort that ultimately lives up to the reputation of its distributor.
Ninos du Brasil is Nicolò Fortuni and Nico Vascellari, an Italian percussion duo with a background in performance art and an incredible flair for live drums. In accordance with their music, their live shows are full of color and energy, bearing a distinct admiration for both techno music and the Brazilian carnival rhythms that so profoundly shape their tunes. But Novos Mistérios is more of an homage to Brazilian percussion music than an imitation of it; it’s about letting the drums define the boundaries of the duo’s canvas, which is stitched together with whistles, vocals, and gloomy, Hospital-esque undertones.
Although the style has been compared to Cut Hands, there is a sense of respect for the music that inspired this album, which can’t be heard in the work of William Bennett. Where Black Mamba could be seen as a reframing of stereotypes about what music from a certain region should be, Novos Mistérios doesn’t overtly play on any historical clichés or Western misconceptions about a particular image or heritage. It bears no baggage, no symbolism, no risky appropriation or titles, just a refined, focused dimension and a riveting set of textures that showcase the group’s intricate techniques, all of it imbued with their own menacing panache.
The kinetic mixture of wildness and drones is where the album’s distinctiveness is best articulated. The bustling jamboree of bells with wooden and metallic percussion on “Miragem” is exceptionally punishing; the beat has the potential to drag its audience into a trance-like state before realigning the focus with some sizzling ambient aftermath lurking beneath its bass lines. When this happens, each strike of the cymbal, every blow of the whistle demands attention, pressing you with the desire to move; but instead of throwing your head back and being overcome by the riot, you are forced to pay attention until the percussion is pulled back in again and the unshakable motion ensues.
This all comes to a heady, trance-inducing conclusion on the title track, which plays a good six minutes of slow-vibe, downtempo percussion over a bed of shimmering synths. As demon-like croaks and yelps resound in the distance, the live drums kick in with less than half of the track to go, and the pace suddenly quickens. It’s just another example of how amazing Fortuni and Vascellari are at melding styles within the confines of their idiosyncratic rhythmic predilections And because that bleak vibe persists throughout, there is little doubt that Hospital was the right label to distribute what is easily one of the imprint’s boldest, most dynamic releases to date.