Ela Minus and Populous’ “Azul Oro” is a Nighttime Odyssey to the Caribbean

Lead Photo: Photo by Jacopo Farina. Courtesy of Wonderwheel Recordings
Photo by Jacopo Farina. Courtesy of Wonderwheel Recordings
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Indietronica, a sub-genre popularized by Berlin label Morr Music, flourished in the early to mid-2000s, thanks to artists like Lali Puna, múm, and MS. John Soda. Back then, Italian producer Andrea Mangia helped craft a nostalgic sound packed with soft, glitchy beats, releasing albums under the name Populous. As the years passed, Mangia sought to reinvent himself. He just landed in the hands of Wonderwheel Recordings, which seems like the perfect fit for his brand new album Azulejos.

Even though Mangia created and wrote the entire album in Lisbon, it’s full of references to Latin American music and culture. On the album, Mangia conjures an alternate dimension where the Andes, the Amazon, and the Caribbean collide. That surreal world is best exemplified by “Azul Oro,” for which he tapped Colombian producer Ela Minus. “Azul Oro” is gorgeously intricate, its dembow riddim shapeshifting with Brazilian splashes, Andean rhythms and African percussive textures. Populous also found a way to throw some reggae and dub in the mix – after all, he’s from Lecce, a small town known as Italy’s Jamaica, due to the city’s love for reggae and dancehall.

Ela Minus’ lovely vocals tie it all together, with lyrics about turning into metaphorical gold in the light that shines from her lover’s eyes. About the collaboration, she says Populous’ “music is so uplifting and beautiful. Writing the melody and lyrics for ‘Azul Oro’ was an honor for me; I had so much fun. I really hope this is the first of many collaborations to come with him. I am very excited for the world to listen to this beautiful album.”

Azulejos is out June 9 on Wonderwheel Recordings.