One to watch: Sofia Kourtesis

Published in The Observer March 1, 2020

Listen to the opening number of the Peruvian-born producer Sofia Kourtesis’s first, self-titled EP, and you imagine a train made of rackety sonic junk clattering down a track. Its destination? A good time, surely: while her brand of house may be arrestingly distinct, clicking and juddering with distorted vocals and fragments of field recordings, she always keeps her eyes firmly on the dancefloor rather than the navel.

Kourtesis, who is based in Berlin, started out in a hip-hop band at 18 (“We were really bad”) before migrating to the mixing deck after meeting her now ex-partner Derwin Schlecker, AKA Gold Panda, and later becoming a booker for clubs including Berlin’s Funkhaus. Released last year by Studio Barnhus, the eclectic Stockholm-based dance label, the EP won glowing reviews (Pitchfork called it “magical”).

Now, Kourtesis has released a follow-up, Sarita Colonia. An initial thudding of warm bass seems to announce a heavier approach, but her inventive restlessness quickly makes itself felt again.

Moninga is a synaesthete’s delight, hissing and fizzing away inside the brain, while Akariku ripples and trills, closing things with irresistible, insistent arpeggios. Throughout, Kourtesis uses skittish fragments of found sound recorded on the road, plus vocal snippets lifted from films and records (spot the snatch of Marvin Gaye). A musical magpie then – or, as she put it in an interview with website Dance Deep, “I like everything. You would call it straßenköter in German: a stray dog.”

Sarita Colonia is out now on Studio Barnhus

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