What does Di laif sound like?
Guatemalan roots meets Parisian metropolis.
The review of Di Laif – Passages Vol.2 Di Laif
German label Shika Shika has a knack for picking up musicians that merge together their heritage and acoustic roots with some modern day electronica. Their motto is “music without borders” and their new Passages series takes that literally. They are showcasing artists who have migrated and asking them to show how this has made them feel through music. Di Laif is the second artist. Guatemalan-born, current Paris resident, this EP brings together three superb tracks that mix both cultures together.
Di Laif starts each of the three tracks with lush flutes, marimba and vocals of his roots. The percussion often starts out organic too with a variety of drums, shakers and whistles being used to take you back to the forest. Each song then integrates this into a cosmopolitan side, as if the very essence of the rhythm and melody is being electrified. In the opening track “La Cura”, a pulsating melodic synth worms its way into the second half of the beautiful rootsy piece. It reminds me heavily of the kind of work Porurangi or, more closely, Lagartijeando creates. It takes the organic rhythm to the clubs in a subtle nod. It’s the most simple integration as the other two tracks are more challenging.
“Hum Maya” is a mid-tempo rhythmic number with lots of plucked zithers and flutes that are slightly detuned. Indeed, everything here is detuned from flute to voice. I’m not sure if it’s a comment on feeling like your roots get distorted as you move further away from them but I adore how everything is slightly offkey and mildly taut. It would be a calming piece otherwise but this track has a sinister undertone. The third track “El Canto al Sol” features Molow on vocals with a razor-thin gravel delivery of his fast-spoken word. Then his voice gets warped into a bending “woaha!” for the chorus hook whilst light hip-hop beats mesh with organic drums and layers upon layers of flutes. Again, the music doesn’t sit in the normal melodic tones you hear from the traditional key scales but it is a key element of Di Laif’s music. He produces a slightly off-kilter vibe throughout whilst bringing the groove and rhythm.
It should come as no surprise then, that when someone is merging genres in an atypical format, I absolutely clicked with it. I was fortunate to listen to this for the first time yesterday during a sunset and it was the perfect mood for Di Laif’s music. If you enjoy Central and South African music producers, Di Laif is a no-brainer purchase. I’m also excited to hear from other musicians in the Passages series about their migration through music. You can follow the series on Shika Shika.
Recommended track: Hum Maya
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