Few do cinematic sorrow quite like Poland’s Jacaszek and ‘Music For Film’ spans 20 years of his bleakest, most seductively sad and spectral works for film in 10 pieces that patently make for a beautiful album.
Epitomising a certain, haunted nature and emotive clout we’d associate with soundtracks for bleak Polish and Eastern European cinema, Jacaszek’s various strands of work for documentary, fantasy and TV drama seep together in the creepily paced sequence of events and spectral apparitions that unfold within the ambient-classical-concrete interzones of his ‘Music For Film’.
Etched in chiaroscuro over broad canvasses from a palette of field recordings, acoustic sampling, poetry and baroque instrumentation, his music trustingly evokes the dark fairytales and hardbitten dramas he’s been sought out to score, but removed from those contexts and replaced into an album sequence, the suggestive essence of Jacaszek’s music becomes more versatile, lending itself to your own swoon-worthy scenes and perhaps most acutely, often as a crushing elegy for the times.
RIYL Deathprod, Deaf Center, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and this one’s among the most convincing examples of his chilling abilities.
Lights out, game over. Duma win 2020. Breathtaking by any measure, Kenyan grindcore band Duma’s unparalleled debut of blast beats, sky-clawing synth noise and scarred larynx vocals is one of the mightiest things you’ll hear all year - a huge RIYL Nkisi, Woid, Senyawa...
Duma's self-titled debut is the most incredible injection of life-affirming, outsider energy imaginable in these dark ages; an LP that’s bound to cleave opinion and upend preconceptions of what music from East Africa, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, can be.
Comprising Martin Khanja (Lord Spikeheart) and Sam Karugu, Duma mete out a jaw-dropping extreme sound rooted in Nairobi’s flourishing underground metal scene, where they’ve previously performed in bands Lust of a Dying Breed and Seeds of Datura. Faithful to the name - translating to “Darkness” in Kiyuku - they forge a frankly unprecedented darkside sound, welding trve metal vocals and eschatological synths with the frenetic energy of Central African and breakcore rhythms in transfixing arrangements that just beggar belief.
Certainly we can compare them to other outliers of extreme music - the dark cosmic Congolese energy of Nkisi or the cataclysmic sound of Wold/Black Mecha, and Indonesia’s beastly Senyawa - but basically Duma are, like all the above, in a field of their own. From the psychoactive rush of militant snares and keening synths in ‘Angels and Abysses’ to the doomcore dirge of ‘Pembe 666’ and the exquisite menace of ‘Uganda With Sam’ and the scorching finale ‘The Echoes of The Beyond’ they uncannily reshape the game in their own image with every song, bending conventions and styles with profound sense of iconoclastic freedom and possessed discipline.
When they performed in Berghain at this year's CTM festival, worlds were shattered into a million tiny pieces. They had technical difficulties; their setup wasn't working as planned, so producer Sam Karugu had to improvise, playing backing tracks from an audio player and direct injecting Lord Spike Heart's mic into his laptop. Somehow even with issues that would derail the most professional Berghain vets Duma's set was one of the undisputed highlights of the entire festival, pouring molten lava on the Berlin superclub's sweaty mass of inebriated revelers who created a messy moshpit on the dancefloor.
Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire imprint returns with this absorbing new album of glassy electronics and futuristic soundscaping from French-Canadian newcomer Racine, sitting somewhere in between the artificial life forms of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s ‘Aftertouches' album, the sweeping vistas of Autechre’s ‘Amber' and Arca at her most glacial.
Transmuting the worries of the world into sorely bittersweet electronic compositions, 'Quelque Chose Tombe' (something falls) offers a fully realised sound that makes a virtue of biting point dissonance, something that places Racine in good company among Danse Noire’s roster of fleshy conduits for what Aïsha Devi terms her "Spirit Liberation Front”. Fluidly adept at speaking the language of hyper-contemporary electronic music, they gradually sketch out a labyrinthine album intended to reflect a modern life of “grinning through worry, living in insecurity”, where “to be vulnerable is the new normal; afraid, a bare minimum”.
Racine wring as much emotion as possible from each curdled chord and warbling note in fractal patterns that connote the elusive nature of the future and the intense flux of emotions that never seem to go anywhere, but only compound into feedback loops of anxiety and impotent anguish as the bridges burn in front of us. They run from the remarkable ‘Sujet’ - a dead ringer for some of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s most emotionally absorbing and complex work, to the sublime 'Désordre Baroque’, where the same motifs are wrapped around barely-noticeable key changes that remind us of Talk Talk’s 'Laughing Stock's quietest moments, before a heavily vocoded voice fractures into several trajectories all at once, like mercury slivers on the loose.
By the time ‘Geranium’ arrives, choral voices, flutes and distortion take things to more epic and forlorn dimensions, with "Sans Titre” prescribing drone and bird song as a kind of short-lived catharsis.