Two friends (art students) join forces to create some brilliant experimental music. Familiar story, isn’t it? Sturqen, who have already made a mixtape for Secret Thirteen, are a duo based in Porto, consisting of César Rodrigues and David Arantes. Since 2009 they have been gradually improving their craft, and the latest result of their monumental effort is entitled “Neophobia”.

The album was released by ukrainian label Kvitnu in the spring of 2013, but listeners should not expect a colourful and bright work. Instead, they will enjoy a cyclic, constant and beautiful compound of heavy rhythms and distorted layers.

After winning two Qwartz Awards in 2011 – for “artist” and “discovery” – for their remarkable “Peste”, this duo has been working hard on its music, releasing some outstanding albums, such as “Colera”, “Praga” and “Raia”. But their ongoing improvement never seems to end, as shown in last year’s “Neophobia”.

Often compared with other acts such as Roly Porter, Emptyset, Pan Sonic or even Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman, with “Neophobia” these two Portuguese musicians have definitely found the way to provide listeners with all those abrasive nuances, adding, of course, their own industrial and noise-esque footprint.

Just a few seconds into “Toxinas”, the opening track on “Neophobia”, listeners will notice a sound hammered by aggressive percussions, radical distortion and elliptical structures, which shapes the 12 songs of this awesome album. This characteristically post-industrial flavour, which is a constant in their work, is highly based on rhythm and their instinctive use of filters. Track 9 “Refugio” is reminiscent of such reputable acts like brits Aphex Twin or Autechre, but clearly contains some of the intense and violent Sturqen’s own personal sound. the use of white noise in “sukeria”, the dark-techno style in “Ingebrik” or the noise-like personality of “Jalcove” are all examples of the diverse and overwhelming nature of this highly recommendable album.

In brief, “Neophobia” is a natural step forward in Sturqen’s career and clear proof of their ongoing musical improvement. The album offers an abrasive, distorted and violent sound, based on heavy percussions and constant rhythms, which altogether form an astonishing work. Undeniably strong and instinctive, partly due to Sturqen’s use of analog machines, “Neophobia” represents a surprising and powerful compound of heavy post-industrial experimentation.

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