Album Review: Enchufada Upper Cuts – Four Years of Global Club Anthems [Enchufada, 30th September 2016]

Back in 2013, Lisbon-based label Enchufada, home of local DJ star Branko and Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue, among others, launched a free download series called Upper Cuts. Every two weeks, they gave away the best tunes from all across the club music spectrum by the label’s favourite artists, and after six months of doing so, they decided to gather such tracks into compilation volumes.

To celebrate almost four years of collecting music and releasing compilations, Enchufada has released what could be defined as a Greatest Hits album, namely a selection of the best tracks on the Upper Cuts catalogue, that goes under the self-explanatory name ‘Enchufada Upper Cuts: Four Years of Global Club Anthems’.

The album, released on 30th September 2016, aims to be a perfect summary of the past year’s work, and a fitting representation of Enchufada’s taste and ethos. It puts together 22 tracks, different for origin and time of release, from afro-beat to tropical via kuduro, Angolan kizomba, gqom and much more, but all made for the dance floor and with a tremendous focus on the beat, and representing Enchufada style and ethos. Indeed, the tracks resemble each other in some way, as if the artist behind it was only one. Such aspect, however, turns out to be a double-edged sword, for on one hand, the similarity between the songs definitely gives a recognisable identity to the compilation and to the label itself, but on the other, it might be perceived as a lack of originality and result in a sense of boredom after half of the playlist.

Nevertheless, some songs worth mentioning make their appearance. Dengue Dengue Dengue never disappoints: with their ‘Lokumba’, a mix of psychedelic cumbia and dub, they hypnotise the listener as if in a shamanic ritual. Buraka Som Sistema brings to the table the African zouk flute engraved in 21st century club beats; Italian producer The Clerk supplies juke mashed up with Arabic influences (the song is not by chance titled ‘Cairo’).

Towards the end of the tracklist, Portuguese artist Dotorado Pro pays homage to the marimba, the national instrument of Guatemala, with his track ‘Love Marimbas’, and then the album comes to an end with ‘Flexx’, by Lisbon DJ, producer and “all-around Enchufada powerhouse”, Rastronaut, a 130bpm track that does not want you to stop dancing, but rather replay the album from the beginning once more.