Since the beginning of time, all around the world, from Africa to Papua New Guinea to the Roman Empire, percussions have always been used to empower human beings in one way or another. They were used to foment armies before the battle, to bring the community together in dance, to perform rituals, and to lead people in a trance where rhythm and repetition were the keys to the gate to reach the divine.
Now fast-forward to 2017 and listen to Vida Eterna. The masters of ceremony are Ninos Du Brasil, a duo of drummers with their hearts deep-rooted in the Amazons, but (you wouldn’t know from their name) born and bred in Italy. Their latest album, published by La Tempesta Dischi is their own ritual to capture the essence of the night – obscure, deep, and esoteric. A work that’s more than music, it’s a picture of the forest, a vision, and definitely a journey. Shakers move like rattling bones, bass drums roar deep like thunder, cymbals strike like lightning – every sound in this album takes life into something more than itself, an image, a suggestion, a piece of the atmosphere.
Demoniac voices talking to us, whispers of indecipherable spells – the ritual has begun. “O Vento Chama Seu Nome” (Portuguese for “the wind calls your name”) is exactly like a voice that invites us to enter into the pulsating heart of a very dark place. The ecstatic rhythm is restless and the looping groove gets you lost in a few seconds. Sounds of shakers, snares, drums, agogos, and cowbells are perfectly orchestrated into complex and rich percussive patterns, constantly propelling energy. After the first few minutes, the music evolves into a trance, sense-wise and music-wise, bringing the ritual to the next level in “O Meio Da Noite” – a track with deep techno and trance shades that exponentially grows in intensity and creepiness. Sounds of birds, horns and creatures of the night ornate this track perfectly, making you feel like you’re getting lost in the centre of a forest.
In no time, Ninos du Brasil’s wizardry drags you into a parallel dimension, an illusion or hallucination – a sonic environment inhabited by bats, owls, spirits, and ghosts. The drums are restless while the beat takes over your body and the bass slips into your mind sinuously like a snake whose rattles shake threateningly on every beat. Everything fits impeccably in this album and whilst staying stunningly coherent and cohesive in its entirety, the two producers managed to give very different vibes to each song. Track three “Condenado por un Idioma Desconhecido” has the energy, attitude, and the anger of a punk-hardcore song merged with the power of techno and jungle beats – while, just a few minutes later, a hammering kick and powerful acid bassline give us the chills in “A Magia do Rei, Pt. 2.”
Right before waking from this grim and gloomy dream, a slow muffled groove emerges in “Vagalumes Piralampos”, a closing track that couldn’t be more perfect. A tip of chilled trip-hop flavour enshrouds our senses while the suave voice of composer Arto Lindsay guides us softly into the dawn of a new day.
Fearful, fearless, fierce and thrilling – this album is an adventure. It’s a constant climax and cliff-hanger that keeps you hanging in suspense for a moment and suddenly throws you into a deep state of trance. Vida Eterna is a journey through the depth of the night, the depth of sound and of our perception – a bridge to an ancestral dimension where space and time are flexed in a loop that could go on forever. It’s a dark forest in which you can get lost and forget about the rest, and, even though it’s dark and grim and creepy in there, I’d stay in it forever.