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Nkisi - 7 Directions
NON Worldwide co-founder Nkisi rolls out an instant modern classic with ‘7 Directions’ for UIQ. A masterful debut album informed by African Cosmology and Congolese rhythms, it’s aesthetically comparable with music ranging from Æ’s ‘Incunabula’ to The Connection Machine’s ‘Painless’, Lee Gamble hyperprisms and William Bennett’s Cut Hands, but ultimately it’s peerless in the (hyper)modern field...
Specifically referencing the writings of Kongo scholar Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau and the African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo, ‘7 Directions’ is offered as a gateway to hallucinatory mindstates via aerobic mysticism. Ultimately it is focussed on the idea that rhythm has the capacity to modulate and experiment with conditions of perception, and to disrupt predetermined expectations, and does so in the belief that new movements of energy can determine collective behaviour and generate new possibilities for knowledge production and dissemination - perhaps even supposing rhythm’s potential for premonitory pattern recognition.
We fully concur with Nkisi’s notions about dance music’s potential for transferring and conveying energy, both negative/ecstatic, abstract/intuitive, so it’s a rare pleasure to hear her limn those ideas so beautifully, effectively and open-endedly thru ‘7 Directions’. In each part she inimitably unlocks and retunes the body’s rhythmic anticipation with breathless batteries of incredible polyrhythms that arguably make the majority of Western dance styles sound like rote line dance music for folk with little imagination in their bones.
In each direction Nkisi’s drums writhe and rattle in a simultaneously ancient/futuristic style - ancient because they explicitly reference percussive traditions way older than Western civilization, and futuristic because they’ve never been presented in this way before, alloyed with cosmic synth pads that draw lines from Detroit to the Lowlands and back to source, way out in the cosmos. But rather than closed systems for study and analysis, Nkisi’s trax feel like living, bristling organisms or virulent systems that only become activated with user participation, where those ideas can begin to take root, grow and mutate via kinesis.
Even if you don’t dance in public and save ’7 Directions’ for your living room/bedroom/holosphere, listeners will get the best out of this album by putting something in themselves, by shutting their eyes and dancing with it.
Vinyl, LP, Album