Sofia Kourtesis – ‘Fresia Magdalena’ EP review: emotive electronic collages

The Berlin-based Peruvian artist effortlessly ties her artistic message and inspirations together on a second club-ready EP that’s bursting with life and personality

Sofia Kourtesis’ second EP, ‘Fresia Magdalena’, is a deeply personal exercise in crafting dancefloor bangers. Shaped from her collection of field recordings from around Lima where her family currently live, the Berlin-based Peruvian artist and NME 100 graduate’s sample-heavy collagist approach to storytelling weaves intricate sonic details into addictive club-ready compositions.

With its title being a tribute to Kourtesis’ mother and biggest inspiration Fresia (“her whole life she’s fought hard for the people of Magdalena, Peru”), a message of activism underpins the EP’s five pulsating tracks. This desire to fight for change is also conveyed through the record’s artwork, which features a mural of Sarita Colonia – the ‘Patron of the Poor’ – who Kourtesis hails as “an icon within Peru and the voice of the underrepresented”.

Opening track ‘La Perla’ is a moving yet uplifting memory of her late father, which sees Kourtesis staring out to sea and singing on record for the first time. Shimmering synths shine over her heartfelt Spanish lyrics while a choir of voices, percussive instrumentation and a whistled outro channel a revelatory air of long-awaited peace and serenity.

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Comparatively, ‘By Your Side’ – which fuses triangle taps, vinyl crackles, a shuffling house beat and twinkling keys – is a club banger that starts off wistfully and unassumingly before really going for it. Inspired by “thinking about the last hours of daylight”, the way the track fades out and then back in again is extremely effective, ensuring it returns with an air of uninhibited jubilance.

The nostalgic glimmer of ‘Nicolas’ and the entrancing near-seven-minute throb of ‘Dakotas’ both utilise natural elements brilliantly, too. ‘Nicolas’’s drum patterns chime with water trickling down a window to form the backdrop to a recorded conversation, while the camera clicks and chugging synth whirrs of ‘Dakotas’ conjure up a long train journey home. The reassuring voice sample that runs through final track ‘Juntos’ – which translates to ‘together’ in English – acts as a guiding light through dark times, ending the EP on a note of optimism.

By threading a sense of personality and place into her contemplative yet gradually anthemic creations, Kourtesis paints a vivid picture on ‘Fresia Magdalena’ of the locations and moments that she is inviting the outside world to discover and understand through her music. Much like her recent reworkings of Ela Minus’ ‘megapunk’ and Georgia’s ‘24 Hours’, Kourtesis’ latest EP more than proves that club-ready music can be beautiful, thought-provoking and banging all at the same time.

Details

Sofia Kourtesis - 'Fresia Magdalena'

  • Release date: March 19
  • Record label: Technicolour / Ninja Tune
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