Xinobi – Balsame

The best balsame there is for our ears. Xinobi is back, and the dance floor just got even more colourful.

Peace, tranquillity and love: three of the sensations we most like to have in this world. That immense security where everything seems controlled, where we feel free and at the same time safe, with everything going as planned and without problems that frighten us and lead us to protect ourselves.

Some people protect themselves with words, caresses, rhythms or beats. A trip to the cinema, a walk at the end of the day, an endless smile that fills our soul: we all have our little pleasures and those desires that make us feel good just thinking about them.

The passion we share for this house is musical – and it’s a love so great that it expands into words, sponsored by rhythms that each one of the artists who pass through here flavours even more.

Today we are on one of those days: we meet Bruno Cardoso and his alter-ego for one of the albums that promises to be one of the best of the year and that is on repeat on our radios since it came out. Stay with him.


DTX • 2022

Balsam: consolation or relief, scent or perfume. The dictionary promises an eloquent flavour that will not leave us indifferent, and it is with this premise that we set off for Xinobi’s latest work.

We borrow a phrase that was written around here when reviewing On The Quiet (Relapse): “We can see the resemblance between Shinobi and Xinobi: one solves the problem with a Katana, the other with his bare hands. And that is what Xinobi is all about. He storms it away through a crowd with a mix of riffs, dance beats and groovy manners that make him one of the ultimate all-around in the Portuguese industry.”

And the reality is that we couldn’t be more certain of this definition. Xinobi swept us off our feet for the first time as a solo artist in 2014, with 1975. But it’s in 2017 that we have one of the Portuguese artist’s most important works: On The Quiet is more than an album. It is similar to an institution, which brings together a dream with all the personal and more intimate tastes of the creative artists. Almost like a ninja, it undresses our soul and creates a sense of need to listen more and better with every snippet we hear.

With an honourable mention, we still have time for Toledo and A Collection of Xinobi Dance Songs, it’s time to go in wire-to-wire for “Balsame“, the record we most needed to hear in 2022 and didn’t know it.

And we are not indifferent to every way of listening to it: we’ve listened to it in the car, between telework meetings at Teams, with headphones or with a speaker with one of those sounds where we feel so close to the artist and all his artistic panoply.

More than a record, “Balsameis a feeling – and every time we open it we discover something new.

Before we dissect the record, let’s take a look at the first piece of art that appears in front of our eyes: the cover, produced by Bráulio Amado, full of people, of all shapes and sizes, with everything that characterises what is in us, for better or worse – a society full of differences, where we feel kings of our own destiny. It is beautiful, invigorating, almost like a historical picture. It could – and should – be in any one of our living rooms.

From visual art to imaginary and sounds is just a step, and it’s time to press the play button. Like D10S Maradona or Pablo Aimar, “Balsameincludes ten songs, separated by forty-four minutes.

With the stunning help of Meta_, “La Tormenta”, the first single from the album portrays the incessant struggle of women to be more and better in a world full of difficulties. Between universal and fleeting rhythms, by the time we close our eyes we feel ourselves flying through lands never revealed. Xinobi’s familiar ringtone comes to the fore near the minute and a half mark, with a kind of piano sailing over our heads, as if it had been inside forever. Astonishing.

We move on to “Başa Bela”, where Xinobi is joined by the Turkish artist Alem-i Adastra – and it is on this premise that we suddenly feel enveloped by a mix of exotic spices that enter our soul. The danceable rhythm is not indifferent to us and it is for this moment that we move our hips with all our strength, imagining a crazy night in Turkey, full of heat, smiles and lots and lots of good music.

And if there is an album that always has very special guests, that album is definitely Balsame. With Margarida Encarnação, we have reached the moment of returning to the past to triumph in the present and future – and it is with the artist’s roots that we understand why we are fans and why we don’t want to let him go. “Amor Cego” is the most Xinobi song on the album, with a danceable rhythm from the first to the last minute, as he so well knows how to do. Listening to it, we remember the last time we were with him face to face, from night until the first rays of the morning sun, with hope reinvigorated by everything that happened on that wonderful night.

We leave for “Phénix” with hope strengthened and with an immense will to revolutionise our lives with something new and demanding. And it is with the collaboration of Arâm that his battle voice, intoned in French, reaches a magical pedestal of light, will and pleasure. It’s imposing and captivating, but what expression doesn’t get incredibly more powerful and seductive chanted in French?

We’ve reached the halfway point. And everything has gone by in a flash – but you know how it is, when time is well spent, everything seems like a second. And it’s in a noir atmosphere, where the rain prevails and introspection seems permanent, that we come to “Slow Motion”. Led by a piano and a saxophone, the intense power of the music Xinobi produces could be perfectly associated with any of our favourite films. We feel magic, love and a lot of passion in the production, always with the optic that we are travelling to somewhere other than where we are at the moment.

From rain to haunting sunbeams that test our souls? Just over three and a half minutes. And it is with Meta_ that we return to the dance floor with full force. The lights, the sweat, the steps and smiles: we have arrived at “Mujer”, an extraordinary combination of desire, desire and power, which enters our ears like an oasis. The lyrics that are sung are so sensual and beautiful that they feed any passion we may have.

In a more playable format, reminiscent of the days of intergalactic video games like Wipeout, we have “La Vie”. With the help of Arâm, it feels like we’ve been sucked from this world into some other galaxy – and that our life is, at that very moment, being presented back to back in front of us, with all the good nostalgic memories that are so good for us.

And in the eighth track, we come to the best-kept spice of the universe – “Balsame”, the song that gives name to the artist’s work, is a true message of war, sung loud and clear by Arâm, in French. The mixture of multiple cultures is evident, almost as if we were facing a multicultural transmission, where there are no borders, barriers or limits so that we all connect in one world of ideas and creativity.

Back to the land and our favourite dance floor, “The Gathering” brings us exactly what we are looking for: well-being in our activities and actions, with our dearest friends, girlfriends or boyfriends always around. The immense happiness of returning to a place we know so well and with no real-time to see this thought close: we talk about irreverent rhythms and beats, which portray the best of what Xinobi has been doing for many years in every corner he plays.

With the best golden key in our hand, we fly one last time over all our thoughts and “A Beatless Finale”. If we want to characterize Xinobi, his house, Discotexas and all his friends, pals and collaborators, here we have the answer: a stunning finale, always in crescendo and with multiple instruments appearing on stage at the right moment, to make any world-renowned producer blush. The artistic transformations are abrasive and worthy of a king.

Arrive, see and win: “Balsameis just that, one of the best records of the year and Xinobi’s most mature and expansive production to date. We flew from our chairs to the four corners of the world – and it’s with these feelings that we start the album once again and we are back to track number 1. A WtMM recommendation.

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