Sofia Kourtesis’ debut album is dedicated to her mother specifically, but to all mothers generally, in whatever form they happen to exist. That sort of duality is a constant refrain through the album, one that celebrates Kourtesis’ Peruvian heritage in tandem with her adopted home of Berlin, delivering songs in both English and Spanish, songs that are both emotionally and physically moving. Simply put: it’s a work of transcendent joy.
There is an immediate four-to-the-floor beat on the title track, but the Spanish vocalising in the background gives a Latin flavour that is constant throughout, especially via the protest chants of Estación Esperanza and carnival atmosphere of El Carmen. Si Te Portas Bonito has a little more shimmy and shake about it, nodding towards the club, but in the direction of warm, free-spirited dancefloors rather than than the icy textures that often characterise Berlin electronica.
Moving Houses is one of the most impressively touching songs, a spare arrangement overlaid with processed vocals that discuss feelings of displacement and belonging. It’s experimental and wonky, yet still deeply affecting. Similarly, this is also managed by Vajkocsy (named after the neurosurgeon who saved Kourtesis’ mother’s life), which evokes Caribou in its buoyant, celebratory feel. The influence of Dan Snaith’s pal Four Tet is felt elsewhere, particularly on the skipping, two-step beat of How Music Makes You Feel Better and the patient build-up of Funkhaus.
Madres takes all of the best elements that Kourtesis has displayed over the past few years and somehow manages to improve on them, to synthesise them into an album that is fun, emotionally intelligent and inventive. There are woozy electronic experiments along with organic flourishes (the gorgeous piano line on Cecilia) and bubbly booty-shakers containing resonant lyrical dispatches. The future is bright indeed for this star in the making.