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Filastine & Nova are a multimedia duo working to undermine borders. Their music collides electronic beat production with dense layers of voice, concréte sounds, analogue synths and strings. Spin magazine calls it "bass music for crumbling urban futures," and Pitchfork says "they sound less like `world' music and more like ...

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Lex Lindsey

Folk for Uncertain Futures: Filastine’s Border-Hacking Polyphony Uses Roots and Beats to Rally Against Xenophobia

Album release April 28, 2017 (CD, 12" vinyl, & online)
Video single Perbatasan out March 31, 2017
World tour starts April 22, 2017 

Drapetomania (release date: April 28, 2017) is a new collaboration between Barcelona’s veteran producer Grey Filastine and Indonesian neo-soul vocalist Nova Ruth. Electronic and acoustic, pop and wildly experimental, from roots music to future bass, Drapetomania is an audio strike against xenophobia, proposing a borderless and polyphonic world.

The duo made Drapetomania in a series of improvised music studios, from a wooden sailing ship in the Indian Ocean to a dusty village in the Sahara, and in barrios from Brooklyn to Barcelona. The iconic 808 drum machine and analog synths of electronic music were short-circuited by tropical humidity, abraded by dust storms, and saturated with the cacophony of a dozen cities. The duo’s nomadism wasn’t optional, but determined by which countries would let in both nationalities and how long they were allowed to stay. This struggle with borders enters into the lyrics, and even the process, of the album. Perbatasan is inspired by the band’s experience performing in the Calais Jungle migrant camp in France, and was recorded inside the holding cell of a former deportation center.

Filastine’s beat constructions share the loose organic stutter of fellow angelino Flying Lotus, but owe more to North Africa than North America. Syncopated drum patterns and heavy bass pressure come to the foreground on instrumental tracks like the Arabic-inflected footwork of “Blockchainz” and the dark psychedelic trap of “Cleaner.” Former guest vocalist Nova is now a full partner, adding her otherworldly voice and songwriting to tracks like “Fenomena,” “Senescence,” and “Miner.” Long-term Filastine collaborator Brent Arnold contributes lush cello lines across the album.

Drapetomania’s title comes from an 18th century medical diagnosis for the urge of the slave to run away, at that time considered a mental illness. This urge to escape is further explored in Abandon, a suite of four video clips from the album, and in the Drapetomania performance which uses music, cinematic live video, and dance to conjure an emergency exit from the anthropocene.

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