- Album Release April 28, 2017 (CD, 12” vinyl, & online)
- Video single ‘Perbatasan’ out March 31, 2017
- World tour of new live performance starts April 22, 2017
Drapetomania is a new collaboration between Barcelona’s veteran producer Grey Filastine and Indonesian neo-soul vocalist Nova Ruth. Electronic and acoustic, pop and wildly experimental, from roots music to future bass, Drapetomania is an audio strike against xenophobia, proposing a borderless and polyphonic world.
The duo made Drapetomania in a series of improvised music studios, from a wooden sailing ship in the Indian Ocean to a dusty village in the Sahara, and in barrios from Brooklyn to Barcelona. The iconic 808 drum machine and analog synths of electronic music were short-circuited by tropical humidity, abraded by dust storms, and saturated with the cacophony of a dozen cities. The duo’s nomadism wasn’t optional, but determined by which countries would let in both nationalities and how long they were allowed to stay. This struggle with borders enters into the lyrics, and even the process, of the album. ‘Perbatasan’ is inspired by the band’s experience performing in the Calais Jungle migrant camp in France, and was recorded inside the holding cell of a former deportation center.
Filastine’s beat constructions share the loose organic stutter of fellow angelino Flying Lotus, but owe more to North Africa than North America. Syncopated drum patterns and heavy bass pressure come to the foreground on instrumental tracks like the Arabic-inflected footwork of ‘Blockchainz’ and the dark psychedelic trap of ‘Cleaner’. Former guest vocalist Nova is now a full partner, adding her otherworldly voice and songwriting to tracks like ‘Fenomena’, ‘Senescence, and ‘Miner’. Long-term Filastine collaborator Brent Arnold contributes lush cello lines across the album.
Drapetomania’s title comes from an 18th century medical diagnosis for the urge of the slave to run away, at that time considered a mental illness. This urge to escape is further explored in ‘Abandon’, a suite of four videoclips from the album, and in the Drapetomania performance which uses music, cinematic live video, and dance to conjure an emergency exit from the anthropocene.
Filastine & Nova are a multimedia duo working to undermine borders. Their music collides electronic beat production with dense layers of voice, concréte sounds, analogue synths and strings. Spin magazine calls it “bass music for crumbling urban futures”, and Pitchfork says “they sound less like ‘world’ music and more like music from another world”. Another world is exactly what they aim to create, using sound, video, design, and dance to express a radically different vision of the possible.
Filastine is the handle of Barcelona-based composer and video artist Grey Filastine. A former taxi driver from the United States, Filastine studied percussion with the coke-fueled carnival batucadas of Brazil and mystical brotherhoods in Morocco. In 1999 he founded the Infernal Noise Brigade marching band, putting these rhythms to use in a live soundtrack for the Seattle WTO revolt and the globalization protests that followed. DJ/Rupture discovered and released Filastine’s premiere album, Burn It! (2006), launching a decade of critically-acclaimed albums and world tours. One of those tours brought him to Jakarta where he met vocalist Nova Ruth, rhyming in Indonesia’s seminal rap group Twin Sista. Nova’s deep musical roots add much to Filastine’s sound; she was raised singing pentecostal spirituals with her priest grandfather, reciting Quran, and playing Javanese gamelan percussion. Beyond music, Nova’s continues her “day job” building networks among Southeast Asia’s video activists and hackers.
Together they create unique and fearless interventions: an official mixtape for The Act of Killing documentary, a sound swarm at the Paris Climate Summit, a performance in the Calais Jungle migrant camp. Their latest effort, Abandon, is a video series profiling dances of emancipation from work, filmed in locations from coal mines in Borneo to office cubicles in America. The songs of Abandon and a grip of other new tracks will come out this year on the duo’s first full album together, Drapetomania, colliding psychedelic trap, tropical post-folk and a punk ethos into a compelling audio thesis.
Filastine & Nova are foremost performing artists, their live show is where sound, image, and ideas are embodied. They’ve toured the five continents, appearing at festivals such as Sonar (ES), Downtown Cairo Arts (EG), Decibel (US), Les Vieilles Charrues (FR), Foreign Affairs (DE), Mona Foma (AU). For the new Drapetomania performance the duo are working with a guest dancer and cinematic multi-screen visuals to conjure an emergency exit from the anthropocene. Expect to find them anywhere, turning friction into beauty.