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Stereossauro – Tristana Review

Experimental Fado electronica to provide an empty sadness to the dancefloor.

What does Stereossauro sound like?

Fado folk music draped in experimental electronica.

The review of Stereossauro – Tristana

Fado is a Portuguese folk variant that often pulls from Blues. It is a purge of strong emotions and so often will be overwhelming sad and perhaps melodramatic to some. Outside of Eurovision avant-garde artist Conan Osiris, my experience with it has been almost zero, but I’ve now discovered Stereossauro. Experimental electronica, Fado vocals from guest vocalist Ana Magalhães and an unusual mix of sounds conspire to make his latest release a fascinating one.

photo of Stereosauro

‘Batimento’ opens the album with all the elements the album bathes in. Smooth and distinctive clickity clackity percussion. A soundboard of tiny instrument samples that collectively make a melody. Nostalgic synths that bubble under the surface. Ana’s emotive voice lingers on like tendrils of folk songs gone by. Everything still sounds quite minimalist despite all those layers and that allows the album to convey a deep sense of emptiness. It’s something that the cinematic ‘Louvadeus’ revels in. Most of the synth and sample work is on a sub-bass level allowing other instruments to twinkle in the dark sparsely. Even when the chorus slightly brightens things, the drums trip over like a wounded lover and Stereossauro’s beats and space between instruments make every noise prickle the back of your neck in tension.

‘Nome de Mulher’ transitions us towards a ghostly ember of a majestic folk song. The acoustic guitar is initially peppered with audio cuts as if the track is missing a pulse. This soon arrives in the form of a dramatic and symphonic string and brass arrangement to underscore a Latin guitar solo. I could be gallivanting around a coastal castle or marching to my doom with this piece. ‘Fora de Pé’ is a gothic-tinged track with tumbling drums that move from darkwave chic to Phantom of the Opera does electronica. These references are down to a dramatic choir sample that pulsates under Ana’s main vocal. It does speak the depth of the album’s arrangements though that this feels like a natural progression despite sounding like it could come from a disco in 1800.

‘Por um Fio’ threatens us with a dark techno surprise with how the synths are dressed. It doesn’t unleash a beast though. Instead, it keeps a haunted tension as the mid-tempo snake-like rhythm meanders like a truth wriggling to escape your ears. ‘Pouca terra’ acts as a great counterpoint. It’s the upbeat gypsy dance of quirky drums, bouncy guitars and accordions that breaks the tension. ‘Sal de Mim’ then allows Stereossauro to embrace IDM and world ambient beautifully with an elegant and ethereal track. Focusing on deep synth baselines and stretched-out Latin guitar and zither samples that turn into washed-out synth waves, this is a club hit in waiting.

After a collection of quite tense and brooding songs, having the album end with a village dance and a club anthem is an interesting choice. As a listener, I’ve decided it’s because we got over our blues and needed enjoyment. That does mean the album suffers from a midtempoism that Fado music primarily lives by. It is nothing a playlist couldn’t sort if it bothers you but it did little to diminish the albums’ charm for me. Stereossauro said he wanted to break the rules of Fado and whilst I agree he does in some instances, the Fado emotional core is protected and kept intact. This is an immersive and clever album though that takes a lot of sound design to make something sound minimalist and hide its complexity. It rewards repeat listens too as you hear new things each time. A great spin on Fado electronica.

Recommended track: Louvadeus

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Stereossauro - Tristana



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