Boomkat Product Review:
Hakuna Kulala return with a bit of a curveball on this new wave African modular synth thriller made in Uganda - a groundbreaking debut album hotly tipped to acolytes of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Craig Leon, Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force or Shackleton.
A key node of the East African new skool first introduced via the epic comp, ‘L’Espirit De Nyege 2020’; Brian Bamanya aka Afrorack is the innovative G behind the homebuilt modular synth of the same name - a hand-made array of boxes designed according to schematics available online.
Solving the issue of sourcing expensive kit and giving his machine a singular sound in one stroke, Bamanya's set-up is a huge achievement in itself, but the music is worthy of close attention too, manifesting a restless creative energy in its serpentine polyrhythms and circuit-bent fractals that surely resonate the musical traditions of the region, while also taking them somewhere quite unprecedented.
No doubt the sounds and structures bear some resemblance to Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe's concepts for polyrhythmic modular performance, however they ultimately map a more personalised rhythmelodic topography and tonal palette that reveals and comes into its own sense of physics.
With a canny wink at the well known EuroRack modular synth range, Bamanya’s AfroRack speaks it and its maker’s mind in nine parts that prove an intimate familiarity with the kit’s range, stretching out from the wobbling tones and crisp logdrum-like lilt of ‘Osc’ to arid baromatrix of ‘Desert’ via standout runs of Euclidean polyrhythmic permutation in ‘African Drum Machine’, the electroid muscle of ‘bassPlus’ and ‘Inspired’, or purist tonal flights such as ‘Rev’ and ‘Why Serious’ that can't help but recall Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler via Shackleton and Francis Bebey.
A marvellous achievement of resourcefulness and ingenuity with exemplary, expressive results that will endure in the history books and on shelves for time to come, The Afrorack is another eye-opening moment from Nyege Nyege Tapes’ intriguing Hakuna Kulala flanker.