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"Amazing! One of the top 5 records I have been sent all year, simply brilliant."
- Marc Rowlands (Jockey Slut)
?With deep, lush chords, rich, expansive basslines and, of course, an abudance of percussion, the songs can rock the dancefloor as perfectly as they soothe the lounge.?
The sound of Cuica is pure hook: instant, catchy, and to the point.
Following hot on the heels of two smash Ubiquity singles, Simone Serritella, one half of the duo, describes their forthcoming "City to City" album as "Pure entertainment prime-time beats with a Brazilian twist." That's about as accurate a description as you're going to get, especially from a guy who speaks London-brewed broken Italian-English. Mix the electro-bounce of Metro Area with the percussive energy of the Truby Trio, add a smattering of old school disco and some future breaks and that's Cuica. No mess, a little cheeky and twisted; honest, full-flavor club music.
Serritella's partner in Cuica is fellow-Londoner Pete Herbert. Any vinyl junkie who spent time in London between 1995 and 2001 will know Herbert from his days running the legendary London record store Atlas. An emporium unrivalled for it's eclectic wares Herbert laments the closure of Atlas due to financial pressures last year, "It taught me a lot and I met a lot of great likeminded people - but it became hard to make ends meet, believe me we tried!" he says. "I could see myself turning into one of those grumpy old f*ckers that you see in London record stores and when our friendly landlords trebled the rent that was that!"
Outside of Cuica Hebert records as Optimo (with Mat Anthony and Martin Jenkins of Stratus/Pussyfoot) and used to record as Bushflange for Hard Hands. He also compiles records as an A+R agent for Palm Pictures sub-label Quango.
Serritella grew-up in the industrial zone between Turin, Bologna, and Milan,Italy. A mad collector of Italo-European jazz records he moved to London in1999 and began work with longtime friend Joe Davis, the man behind Far Outrecords. Helping start the Far Out sub-label Solaria their releases includedtunes by Marc Mac (4 hero), Flytronix, DJ Venom and Defusion. Serritella now runs the Arision record label and this Fall he releases his own Big Bang album "Arriving Soon".
The two met in 1992 when Herbert worked alongside Simon Lee (Faze Action) at Daddy Kool records in Soho, London. Serritella was a frequent long-distance shopper and the two maintained a friendship as the years went by. Atlas sold a hefty amount of Solaria releases and when Herbert complimented Serritella on his new tracks they decided it was time they collaborated on music. The result was the first ever Cuica single called "Percussive One" released on Arision. When the demo CD-r version of "Trommel Monster" landed on Andrew Jervis A+R desk at Ubiquity talks of a single release began immediately. The album deal was made when Jervis visited London a few months later. That sameweek Serritella DJ'd with Tyrrell (Interfearence) Alex Attias (Beatless) and Jervis at the Ubiquity 100th release party at the Nottinghill Arts Club.
Hanging with Cuica is time well misspent. That is if you like music, girls and the occasional drink. They have an easy-going demeanor and an obvious chemistry, which explains how the album came together so quickly - the majority of it materialized in less than 6 months! "Pete is the funniest man ever," explains Serritella. Herbert returns the complement. Tales of Serritella's drunken rendition of the "Theme to the Godfather" at the end of a gig in Germany, or getting booked to play in France because the promoter confused Pete Herbert with Matthew Herbert are just the tip of the iceberg. The two keep a busy DJing schedule playing all over Europe, Herbert with residencies in London, Brussels and Paris, Serritella listing Switzerland and Central Europe as his favorite spots to play. Herbert sums up a typical week as "Feel Like sh*t Monday morning, do easy tasks to make it feel like I'm working. Dig for samples, go record shopping, hang out with Molly (girlfriend), cook, work on compilation projects, have at least one late night in the week and pay for it the next day. DJ one sh*t gig and swear to give-up DJing, have one killer gig and buzz for the next 2 days . . . all in no specific order."
The duo apparently live for music, it's their lives, which explains how they came up with such a simplistic yet vital record, it just came naturally. Their hectic DJ schedule prompted the album title "City To City". They even dedicated one track (Meierising parts I, II, & III) to the Meierei - one of their favorite clubs in Vienna, Austria and another "Nights Over Vauxhall" is a tongue-in-cheek ode to the less glamorous location for their studio, high above the industrial area of Vauxhall, South London.
The word Cuica (pronounced Kweek-uh) is actually the name of a Brazilian friction drum that plays an important part in traditional Brazilian dance music. A stick fixed in the center of a drum skin makes vibrations and causes the cuica's "whooping" sound. Originating from Africa it was used as a Lion call. Despite being synonymous with Brazilian music Serritella says, "A lot of people don't have a clue what it means or how to pronounce it. We like though, it just sounds good and the Brazilian angle is perfect!"
So far Cuica have released two singles for Ubiquity - an awesome batucada called "Trommel Monster" that switches from down to up tempo mid-way, and "Cuidado"/"Why Not Samba" which balanced Brazilian influences with sly minimal-house attitude. Both 12"s were given thumbs up by the international Nu jazz DJ fraternity. In fact their release resulted in numerous license and remix requests. As Cuica they've reworked tunes by Funky Lowlives (a mix which charted in the top 3 of the German Dance charts), Snowboy, and for Finnish label Nine2Five. Balancing simple and catchy is not an easy achievement, but these guys have it down. "City To City" is their debut full-length CD/LP for Ubiquity, to be released in January 2003. Watch www.ubiquityrecords.com for sneak streaming previews of tracks from the City to City album over the next few months.