Sofia Kourtesis – ‘Madres’ review: a love letter to the Latin and dance sounds that shaped her
A great DJ’s reputation is built on their curation capabilities, and Peruvian-born, Berlin-based Sofia Kourtesis knows how to assemble an unforgettable dance experience. Her debut album ‘Madres’ cements her position as a bold and crafty producer of house-infused dancefloor heaters. It maintains the jubilant, familial, story-led style of its predecessor, her 2021 breakout EP ‘Fresia Magdalena’, but also provides listeners with an added layer of emotional vulnerability.
The title track and album opener sets the precedent for what’s to come. It has choppy vocal samples weaved through a high-octane, synth-driven blissful melody, and feels like summer repackaged for the cold clubbing season ahead. ‘How Music Makes You Feel Better’ and ‘Habla Con Ella’ maintain this vibrant vibe, offering funky synths, deeply textured cuts and an overarching sense of euphoria.
The joyous sonics reflect the overwhelming sense of optimism at the album’s centre. Kourtesis has dedicated ‘Madres’ to her mother as well as Peter Vajkoczy, a renowned neurosurgeon who helped save her mother’s life after a cancer diagnosis. Vajkoczy became such a close friend that the DJ-producer even took him to fabled Berlin nightclub Berghain. Another album track, ‘Funkhaus’, is an ode to another Berlin club that’s nearly as infamous. Laced with a racing drum pattern and hypnotic vocal stylings, it captures the dark but inviting spirit that gives the German city its sonic identity.
Across the album, Kourtesis doesn’t just celebrate Berlin, but also embraces the full range of her cultural roots – as well as her political responsibility as a musician. ‘Estación Esperanza’, a single she dropped in 2022 that takes pride of place here, opens with audio samples of an anti-homophobia protest in Peru. This track also tastefully samples the melodic hums of Manu Chao’s ‘Me Gustas Tu’, which harks back to Kourtesis’ knack for sampling in her earlier works. Perhaps most notably, her 2020 track ‘Morninga’ cleverly weaves in elements of The Supremes’ ‘Come See About Me’.
Meanwhile, closing tracks ‘Cecilia’ and ‘El Carmen’ pay tribute to the South American communities that have inspired Kourtesis artistically. ‘Cecilia’ has reverb-washed vocal samples and a pulsating four-to-the-floor beat, while ‘El Carmen’ centres Afro-Peruvian sonics. It all comes together to make ‘Madres’ a true love letter to the varied, invigorating sounds that have shaped Kourtesis.
- Release date: October 27
- Record label: Ninja Tune