Animistic Beliefs

© Kenneth Owens

Animistic Beliefs are inventing a new, creole musical language. The Rotterdam-based duo of Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu repurpose forms from techno and IDM to create exhilarating hybrids, applying a fresh perspective that is both deeply personal and political.

‘Animism’ is the idea found in indigenous belief systems that all objects, creatures and places possess a spiritual essence. Pre-colonial thought, traditions and music connected with Marvin’s Moluccan and Linh’s Vietnamese-Chinese heritage are key inspirations behind the Animistic Beliefs project, and tools through which the duo explore their experience as people of colour living in the Netherlands, a historical centre of colonial power.

Shared introductions to dance music as underage attendees of Rotterdam warehouse raves and a passion for analog equipment were the initial catalysts to Linh and Marvin’s collaboration. Early on they would meet regularly at a group for hardware enthusiasts, where they’d solder together pieces of equipment from scratch. Electro, gabber and punk formed the initial backbone of their sound, but as the duo rediscovered traces of culture that conventional history had erased, South-East Asian tonality, tribal rhythms, even texts and poetry have become central components.

Their music has appeared on some of the most vital labels in contemporary electro, including Cultivated Electronics, brokntoys and the Exaltics’ Solar One, through which Animistic Beliefs released their debut full length Mindset:Reset in 2019 - an LP that combined icey, bass-heavy hypnosis with vivid melodic lines that stay lodged in the eardrums. 

Parallel but distinct from their releases, the duo have honed a fast-paced and ritualistic live sound. In a dimly lit room behind a web of cables, they become a powerful force. Layering Linh’s live vocals beneath detailed, tightly wound metallic loops and pneumatic kicks, these imposing metallic structures give way only fleetingly to passages of brooding, choral melancholy - moments of emotional release made even more intense by their transience. As performers Animistic Beliefs have been able to transcend the club circuit, and are as comfortable sharing the bill with techno mainstays like DJ Stingray and Helena Hauff, as they are alongside artists like Lotic, Rian Treanor and Jlin.

Increasingly, sights are set beyond music, as Linh and Marvin broaden their output to alternative fashion and new media art. Their avant-garde audiovisual project ‘CACHE/SPIRIT’ with Jeisson Drenth, is the most recent product of their expansive artistic direction, which has included a/v  performances for Traumabar und Kino in Berlin, an online residency for virtual arts collective DGTL FMNSM and a large-scale installation at Dresden’s Cynetart festival.

Driven by tireless technical, historical and emotional research, Animistic Beliefs is a constantly evolving artistic project. By celebrating and unifying a diverse set of countercultural influences, Linh and Marvin are challenging the expectations of European techno to make the kind of art that leaves a mark, whether in a gallery or behind a wall of haze and strobes.

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