Loose Lips

VA - Intera Vol. 1

Release Review

VA - Intera Vol. 1

Portuguese collective Intera celebrates its first anniversary with Intera Vol. 1, an 8-track compilation released on January 8, 2019.

The compilation features a group of underground artists either from or residing in Portugal, and offers, through the stylistically-wide range of music they produce, a different perspective on a scene that has recently jumped to the international community’s attention. Even though words such as happeningthriving and diverse are often used when describing the micro-boom that alternative dance music has had in Portugal, the reality on the ground can be quite different: more often than not, one will find the same names in the same places playing the same music. 

It’s in this context that Intera was created a little over a year ago by Caroline Lethô and Telma Correia (together with BLEID, who has now left the project since moving to Berlin mid-last year), to promote diversity without borders and labels. After all, the collective is not about ego or genre, and neither is it about gender (despite the collective being run by two ladies); it is about good quality music and giving a voice to those who struggle to be heard. And this compilation does just that.

The compilation opens with a dreamy house track by Ashok Leylund aka Asio Otus aka Márton Tóth. The Hungarian-born artist has been living in Lisbon for a few years now and is an active presence in the underground scene, hosting Hall of Mirrors and other regular nights at Desterro (one of the few venues offering alternative electronic music programming in the city). As a producer, Márton is a prolific explorer of moods, sounds and textures. Asio Otus was created in 2013 and has since been used to express Márton’s experimentalist side through live acts and cuts like those on the Visible EP. For his more dancefloor-oriented productions there is Ashok Leylund, and it is with this alias that he signs ‘Rosy Horizon’, the opening track of the Intera compilation. A slow-paced cinematic composition, beautiful pads float around the main dreamy melody like fireflies above the surf of a tropical beach at sunset. Purple and orange hues tint the soundscape, granting it a somewhat synthwave vibe.

‘Hashtag Faixa Leve’ is next and, as the title hints in Portuguese, it is light and breezy keeping the listener in an easy-flowing summer night vibe. Its slow pace and fantastic hi-hat work makes it a foot-tapping, head-bouncing, groovy-as-fuck tune. It was produced by Pedro Rocha and signed under his lesser-known house alias Ppueblo
— Rocha is more often associated with Peterr, the name he uses for his techno projects; it is as Peterr that he co-hosts Sombra, a monthly show at Rádio Quântica which doubles as a record label. As Ppueblo, the artist relies on his extensive archive of samples (the Lisbon-based artist has been an obsessive collector of sound bites since his teenage years) and the eight available channels of the Octatrack have formed the crux of his production process since 2016. With ‘Hashtag Faixa Leve’, Pedro has managed to find the beauty of simplicity — the groove of the bare essentials.

TrigHer’s contribution to Intera Vol. 1 follows with ‘(No 808) at Moni Katoi’s House’, a raw, electro-inspired track led by saturated kick drums and a funky bassline. It is — like her latest releases — cut for the dancefloor, even though the Madeira-born, Cascais-based producer is a self-confessed experimentalist at heart. TrigHer is the solo project of Rubina Góis, a known enthusiast of analogue gear jams that don’t necessarily abide to a particular genre but rather explore new ways of organising sound into music. She has been quite prolific as an artist. As one-half of 2JACK4U, Lisbon’s cult live act, she mainly explores sound in the acid techno realm; through the Covil Sessions she co-hosts at Radio Quântica, a program where, together with her art-and-life partner André, she explores analogue-generated sound; and in addition, Rubina is also part of The Cage Cabarrett and Pharmacia, two experimental projects with different sonic aims. Perhaps because her take on music is very purist — to play the machines she loves just for the sake of music — TrigHer’s sound has a stripped-down authenticity that makes her productions so arresting. 

Vanessa Sousa is best-known in the capital city’s techno scene as Valody. She’s originally from the city of Viseu in northern Portugal, but has been based in Lisbon for the past five years. She came to the capital to follow her passion for deep, raw techno – a style of music that Valody is trying to make more popular in Viseu through the Grave nights she’s been promoting there. It is Valody’s first-ever release on a label, and No Gender does hold a charming naivety, perhaps due to its catchy loop that is rich in harmonics. Still, the off-tempo pad and well-constructed hi-hat work makes it a powerful, driving techno track. It is definitely a track that ups Valody’s career a notch, placing her amongst the promising generation of upcoming producers in Portugal’s niche underground techno scene.

André Lima is the first artist in the Intera compilation to represent a scene other than Lisbon’s. The country being so small, it would make sense that these borders were more permeable, but that’s not often the case. So, in a sense, this compilation also breaks the cycle of geographical protectionism, bringing artists into the public eye who’ve mostly been creating behind the closed doors of his or friends’ houses and studios, as is the case of André Lima’s zero_one act. Coming from the north of the country, in between Porto and Ponte de Lima, zero_one has been involved with electronic music since the mid-noughties, but ‘Claw’ is also the first fully-fleshed track to be released by the artist. His first online presence was a live act published last year following an invitation to record a podcast for the Intera show at Radio Quântica. It was recorded live, like the compilation’s 5th track, using his analogue gear — a Roland SH-101, and two Elektrons: an Analog Rytm and an Analog 4. ‘Claw’ is a dirty acid-techno track, pumping, with ethereal pads that grant extra elegance to a raving track. The track is part of zero_one’s latest live show, in which he collaborated with artist Sergio Coutinho aka Catsup, to create a light installation triggered by the machines themselves, as recently presented at the Intera Vol.1 release party that took place at Damas.

Kerox’s ‘Braved the Storm’ raises both the tempo and grittiness of Vol.1. Its grime-inspired beats clash with the electro-felt bass line, and together with the cacophony of glitches, bleeps and noises makes ‘Braved the Storm’ a muscular, high-energy, grimy track that is not for the faint of heart. Still, it keeps a melodic storyline, perhaps due to the artist’s background in garage-rock and songwriting, which always made him feel an outsider within the Primeira Dama collective to which he belonged. Kerox nourishes the mystery around his persona, and proudly presents himself as a DJ with a unique perspective on music, especially within a scene predominantly monochromatic when it comes to time signatures. As a producer, Kerox aims to explore the outer borders of dance music; particularly cybergrind or IBM. Committed to odd tempos and glitch-filled soundscapes, he’s a disruptive voice in the Lisbon music community, sharing his views in the monthly Digital Freak show he hosts at Rádio Quântica or through subversive parties such as mina

It is interesting to see how the fringes of this new generation — the named millennials, who grew up with the internet and within the plasticity of social media — have managed to harvest the power of technology in their favour. In little time, but with a fair amount of dedication and hard-work, Tsuri has gone from a Oeiras-based bedroom producer to a well-respected artist within the narrow circle of underground electronic music producers in the city. ‘Shinjuku Expressway’ makes it clear why. It is a jungle house track with acid spilling all over it and yet keeps a soft elegance that makes you want to play it over again — the breezy pads and excited vocals, the raw drum sample (they are the gateway to most of Tomás Freitas’ productions), the omnipresent snare with a tropical vibe to it… ‘Shinjuku Expressway’ is just fun and serious at the same time, which makes us wonder if this might be the reason a Japanese-inspired name was chosen for the track.

Closing the compilation with a golden cherry is Intera co-founder Caroline Lethô. The artist has been conquering Europe one dance floor at a time with her honest music, open-minded nature, and positive outlook at the scene. It is easy to sit back and complain about things, or just move away to Berlin where the industry is already in full-operating mode, like she had the chance to intimately experience during her residency at the Red Bull Music Academy this year. Instead, Carolina Mimoso chose to stay in Lisbon, to take her time growing and perfecting her skills as an artist and, in the meantime, make a positive impact on a growing scene in a more inclusive way. 

Simply magical, like her track closing the EP. Surprisingly simple, fast, and gritty yet sweet and soothing, the track is based on manipulated vocal samples and jungle breaks. It shows incredible maturity, as does Caroline Lethô’s overall posture as an artist. Originally from Faro, the artist moved to Lisbon for a university degree she later dropped in favour of her calling. It was in Lisbon that she met Bleid and, together with Porto-based DJ and promoter Telma, founded Intera — to find space for themselves, but also for artists who, like them, had to work hard to “break the asshole cycle”, as the collective’s manifesto states (it can be found in written form through the Intera Bandcamp description, and in audio-form at the beginning of their latest shows at Rádio Quântica). 

Intera Vol.1 shows that it is possible to be provocative in a non-aggressive way, in the hope that it will bring the change it deems necessary. On February 16th, Intera will host a second release party at Passos Manuel in Porto, with TrigHer, Caroline Lethô and ppueblo representing the artists of Intera Vol.1.

As its manifesto clearly states, the collective’s agenda is simple:

INTERA will break the asshole cycle. 

INTERA will protect and cherish diversity and freedom.

INTERA doesn't care about your ego. 

INTERA is not about you.

INTERA is not about us.

INTERA is about the music.