Silvia Konstance and Viktor L. Crux’s Dame Area is project driven almost entirely by rhythm and percussion. Indeed, as the music on their latest LP Ondas Tribales attests, the Barcelona-based duo’s music is almost entirely drums, sparse synth bass and rhythmically yelled vocals. The end result is somewhere between synthpunk and the most primitive strains of body music, minimal in approach if not in terms of energy.
Dame Area don’t waste a lot of time setting the mood of the record; right from opener “Scopri Le Tue Passioni” the drum-forward compositional approach is established and quickly built upon. That track starts with a simple pattern of pitched kicks which are quickly joined by synthesized toms, congas and tambourines in counterpoint, with no more melody than the small amount provided by Konstance’s half-yelped, half-spoken vocals. Standout “La Danza Del Ferro” takes this approach to a controlled extreme, using handclaps, rattling samples, a distorted 808 kick and eventually dead simple two note synthlines to create a dancefloor stormer that recalls the rhythmic noise of Spanish industrial pioneers Esplendor Geometrico as handily as it does no-wave adjacent synth acts like Crash Course in Science.
It’s not all dancefloor stompers though, as Crux and Konstance dig into other song structures and ideas. Early in the record “Linea Retta” uses a straightforward kick-snare pattern as a canvas for toneless synth washes, its bongo fluorishes eventually wiped out by the swathes of swooping noise. At their most traditionally songlike it’s still the drums that stand out, as on the simple “Triangolo Segreto”, its seasick rhythm in direct competition with the snapping and popping drum sounds to grab the listener’s ear. It’s still not what you’d call tuneful, but in the context of the record it offers far more melody than anything else on offer.
It’s somewhat difficult to assess Ondas Tribales in terms of individual tracks, if only because Dame Area are so consistent in their approach. It’s hard to recall which songs are which, and even after multiple listens you’re likely to still be thinking of the album in terms of “this fast part” or “that particular drumline” more than its component songs. For all that clamor and animation it’s actually a record that’s easy to listen to, its pleasures found by letting it take hold and carry you along with it.