Album of the Day: Diron Animal, “Alone”

The video for Diron Animal’s album track “Don’t Stop” is geekily enthusiastic, enthusiastically geeky, and completely charming. Diron wears oversized dark glasses, a black leather motorcycle jacket, and sports an enormous Afro as he boogies, jerks, and clambers over monkey bars as the infectious beat jiggles and thumps and a sax sample cycles through. “Let me see you dance!” he declares, as attractively muscled individuals of all genders bounce on trampolines, lift weights, and pose in front of mirrors. It’s sexy, eclectic, ecstatic music for freaky goofballs of every persuasion.

Indeed, the title Alone, suggesting isolation and contemplation, is a singularly poor fit for the actual contents—though the image of Diron in full-body jumpsuit with multi-colored patches and space-age attachments is on the mark. Hailing from Angola, the singer and instrumentalist is now based in Portugal, but his music draws from everything—hip-hop, rock, disco, electronic dance music, and the Angolan dance music Kuduro.

“Kema,” the album opener, starts with a sinuous melody and slides into grooving polyrhythms with electronic laser noises, with Diron and the background singers doing a call and response mixing Portuguese and Kimbundu. “Ghetto Ghetto” sounds like a somber or angry title, but there’s nothing downbeat about the track itself, with its shake-your-butt beat and Diron shouting “Ghetto! Ghetto!” in a crazed chipmunk voice, until the syllables are lost in a frantic stuttering repetition of the hard “g” sound.

Other than “Don’t Stop,” the high point of the album is probably “NCrazy,” which features South African rapper Spoek Mathambo. The popping electro bass would be right at home in the early ’80s, and Mathambo spills syllables over it like a man spitting supercharged ping pong balls. “Tell me tell me tell me what the ratio / Of good time to bad / Baby, let me know!” For Diron Animal, joy bumps sadness off the dancefloor every time.

—Noah Berlatsky

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