A lot of ink has been spilled on Lisbon, Portugal’s Principe imprint over the past several months, but few commentators have focused on the breadth and quality control that the label has achieved in just five original releases. DJ Marfox and DJ Nigga Fox have (somewhat fairly) garnered much of the plaudits from the press, largely because of their wildly creative synthesis of Lusophone-derived production methods, but each of Principe’s releases has shone a different light on Lisbon’s prismatic dance scene. As far as redefinition goes, Principe’s star act is Niagara, the trio made up of brothers António and Alberto Arruda, and Sara Eckerson. Working almost exclusively in the range of house and techno, the trio might lack the polyrhythmic capabilities of some of their label-mates, but they more than make up for it with melodic innovation and a keen sense of the grittier ends of texture. The most obvious contemporary comparison is Actress, but Niagara’s dubby, wind-drag take on house has a sunnier disposition than the London don’s brightest productions. 2013’s Ouro Oeste, the trio’s hardware-driven debut EP, is a six track rough hewn expose on chintzy snares, thick acid basslines and gritty, punchy kick drums. It’s easy to get lost in the fine-tuned analogue basis of the EP, but the sparkling, deceptively complex melodies are what really drive Ouro Oeste.
It’s not that Niagara are re-defining house music as a whole, but like their contemporaries MGUN and Actress, they strive to re-orient the form should be consumed. It can be both glamourous and uncompromising, dusty and sonorous. The following mix features 12 original Niagara compositions that make up 45 minutes of infectious, distractedly lo-fi fun. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t completely obsessed with it and Niagara’s focus on the minutiae of mixing cannot be ignored. I was also lucky enough to share a short email interaction with the group so stream/grab the mix below and hit the jump for the full interview and track list.