Nazar – Guerilla

On Guerilla, the Manchester-based Angolan DJ and producer succeeds in delivering an aural interpretation of both the physical and emotional trauma attached to conflict

Album Review by Michael Lawson | 12 Mar 2020
  • Nazar – Guerilla
Album title: Guerilla
Artist: Nazar
Label: Hyperdub
Release date: 13 Mar

Part of a global network of artists that make up the wider Hyperdub family, Angolan DJ and producer Nazar first emerged onto the scene at the tail end of 2018 with Enclave, a six-track EP critiquing the civil war that plagued his home country for the best part of 30 years. Laden with the sound of gunshots, distressed cries and warplanes flying overhead, all stitched together with an array of abrasive beats, it was a record that immediately stood out amongst the club-focused, often functional world of electronic music production.

Marking his return with debut album Guerilla, Nazar again uses the Angolan Civil War as the basis for his music, setting out to "sensitively examine and digitalise his family’s collective memory and country's past". Given his father’s role as a Rebel General during the conflict, it’s a topic that the Manchester-based artist has greater access to than most.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, undercurrents of dread, paranoia and general distress flow through Guerilla, with Nazar drawing on a style he describes as Rough Kuduro – a darker, tougher take on traditional Angolan party music – to convey the ubiquitous anxieties of wartime upheaval. These darker tones are often juxtaposed with altogether more virtuous elements for dramatic effect.

Take opening track Retaliation, which pairs ominous death sirens with fluttering birdsong and choirlike vocal samples. A similarly arresting contrast occurs later in the album when Mother, a shimmering ambient soundscape, makes way for the frantic sonic onslaught of Arms Deal and doom-laden atmospherics of Why. Starting where Enclave left off, Guerilla succeeds in its aim of delivering an aural interpretation of both the physical and emotional trauma attached to conflict.

Listen to: Retaliation, Mother, Arms Deal