It’s not every day you come across records that claim to be inspired by vampirism, but such is the case with Italian production duo Ninos du Brasil’s latest LP, Vida Eterna. Comprised of visual artist Nico Vascellari and Nicolo Fortuni, the pair have previously released two albums, both heavily inspired by the Brazilian samba sub-genre of Batacuda, industrial techno, and punk vocals.
Having both met during the ‘90s punk scene in the band With Love, NDB eschews commercialism and places the performative intensity of their show at the core of their experience. All glitter, bombast and frantic percussion, Vida Eterna is no different in its eight tracks of sound-painting. The confluence of eerie vocals, intricate rhythms, and pulsating basslines reworks and reframes the cover art of an oil-painted, fang-bearing bat, an image taken from British artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s Bat Opera series.
We spoke to Vascellari and Fortuni about their nocturnal fascinations, the influence of aesthetics on their work, and NBD’s journey from the streets of Rio Carnival into the unnerving, imaginative forest of Vida Eterna.
In what ways is Vida Eterna inspired by vampirism?
As for every other NDB album Vida Eterna is conceived as a journey. This one is a nocturnal one through a dreary, damp jungle, populated by obscure creatures that capture their vital energy from the dark and the night. The titles of each track suggest a moment in this landscape, as if the tracks were sharp blades making their way into the environment.
How far do visual aesthetics play into your music?
Bats see through sound. We like to believe we could do so too. We aim to create music that is visually suggestive.
The record is densely layered with percussion and different sonic textures; what’s your writing process?
For Vida Eterna, as well as for the previous releases, we created minimal loops, made by riffs and drum beats and then on top of those, we play a huge amount of drums, percussion and make other interesting sounds. In Vida Eterna, you’ll find plates, shopping carts, a boiler, some handmade maracas, hang drums and much more.
While we play on top of the initial track we record many takes and then we listen carefully, choosing what sounds best to us. At the very end, we compose the song structure and add vocals. The process is almost like a meditative ritual with particular focus on carefully constructed atmospheres. It’s quite a long process but so far we feel it has been the right one for us.
Nico, how does your career as a visual artist relate to your musical work?
The idea behind Ninos Du Brasil, at least at the very beginning, was very intuitive. Ninos Du Brasil were supposed to only be a live act: primitive and repetitive and entirely based on vocals and drums. I was interested in the experience of the band and I believe this is true for a lot of my sculptures and performances. Forms are often denied in my work.
Your live shows look incredible – what effect do you want to have on audience members when they come to see you?
Ninos Du Brasil has declared war against the stupidity and superficiality of pop music as well as the current reticence and behavioural inhibition of the dance halls and public venues. Live shows are clearly very important in experiencing Ninos Du Brasil’s music. We don’t speak much during the shows but we always say ‘Nos Somos Ninos Du Brasil’ indicating us and the whole crowd. We simply would like everyone in the audience to loose her/him self, stop thinking, feel the music. No dignity. No shame.
Similarly, what effect do you want the record to have on its listeners?
The record has to be a different experience from our live show. We aim at creating music that is highly visual and that it is why titles and artworks are so important to us.
How do you feel Vida Eterna differs from your last two LPs?
Our journey started with our first album, Muito NDB, and with the chaotic and crowded streets during the Rio Carnival. Now, we have abandoned the city to make our way into the forest. The forest has become increasingly impervious and darkness has fallen. We are surrounded by obscure creatures and a dense and damp vegetation, making our way forward with sharp blades. The sound of this album, compared to our previous releases, is more obscure, negative and masochistic. The whole work has a solid narrative that evokes a terrifying journey through this deep forest, but the last track ‘Vagalumes/Piralampos’ (both words meaning ‘fireflies’) indicates the light showing the way to continue our journey.
Will there be a live show for this record?
The Vida Eterna live show is alive and furious. It is a wild beast that cannot wait to be free.
Words: Ammar Kalia
Vida Eterna is out now on La Tempesta International. Order it here.