Producer and poet Alexandre Francisco Diaphra has unveiled an eerily entrancing new video for the tracks “Nota de Autor” and “O Bode Cuspia” off his forthcoming debut album, Diaphra’s Blackbook of Beats (available July 6 from Mental Groove Records/Bazzerk). Diaphra, who was born in Guinea Bissau and now lives in Lisbon, has crafted his new album outdoors with a collection of records, a portable turntable and a sampler.
“Nota de Autor” begins with a mixture of traditional instruments and heavy drone production that brings to mind British space-rock progenitors Spacemen 3. Diaphra’s production for this track is ambient and disjointed, pulsating and full of dark, coiled energy. A repeated sample of what might be a child’s voice is distorted to the point of sounding unrecognizable and mysteriously alien. Against this background, Diaphra contemplates the “Portuguese Being,” as it relates to the spread of the Portuguese language through colonization. Lisbon has a fascinatingly vibrant music scene, fed, in large part, by this colonial history. Check out some of our other coverage of inventive Lisbon-based producers like DJ Marfox and Batida, and stay tuned for an upcoming program exploring all the city has to offer.
The accompanying video for “Nota de Autor” is VHS-quality “found footage” style shots of the streets of Lisbon, with sped up and slow motion effects, smoke and bubbles enhancing the track’s surreal qualities. Diaphra speaks of visiting the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument) in Lisbon as a child, connecting his own personal story to that of the Portuguese explorers of the past. Shots of Diaphra in traditional African clothing are interspersed with shots of the clouds and a statue of Jesus. Just as Diaphra is ascending upward against a white background, the track’s production switches to more of a left field hip-hop sound. In the video, Diaphra, rocking two chains, crafts beats by a bridge. He is thoroughly in his zone.
In the second segment of the video, “O Bode Cuspia,” Diaphra references Portuguese poet Luís de Camões and philosopher Agostinho da Silva to speak about the freedom of choice and destiny. This is a heady topic, to be sure, but Diaphra has another, more contemporary philosopher to reference: Kool Keith. Diaphra quotes the eccentric rapper’s space-traveling alter ego Dr. Octagon, “Now my helmet’s on… You can’t tell me I’m not in space.” At the end of the song, Diaphra examines the Portuguese origins of his own name, while saying he feels “more African than ever.” In the video, his body is covered in white tribal painted designs. The mixture of personal storytelling with historical awareness and avant-garde tendencies is truly exciting to see from a young artist. We can’t wait to hear the full album! Check out the video below.