Boomkat Product Review:
NON co-founder Chino Amobi heads up one of the label collective’s definitive releases, Airport Music For Black Folk; presenting his radical perspective on contemporary electronic music and his impressions of “the airport as an international space and yet a totally Eurocentric & Western manicured experience.”
The title is an obvious, punning reference to Brain Eno’s classic ambient cornerstone, Music For Airports, but takes on greater meaning when filtered thru Amobi’s personal cultural coordinates, cannily incorporating his stance as a first-generation Nigerian who grew up in Virginia, US of A, as well as that of a convention-challenging and highly critical artist boldly holding a mirror up to western, white privilege.
Working many airmiles from putative perceptions of ambient music, Amobi’s take on the term describes an anxious, fractious experience that has fuck all to do with getting pissed in the airport bar or picking up duty free cigs and booze. Rather, he uses kinetic, mechanical sounds, streaked with stray sirens and vocals delivered in a deadpan, PA-announcement style and rent within acres of emulated reverb to imply a stark sense of being surveilled and passive-aggressively commanded in wide open, angular and bright white spaces on London, whereas Malmo, Milan and Rotterdam warp classic synth-pop traits into asymmetric, gunshot-riddled trap structures, and Warszawa trades in a curt diction of digital no!ze whilst Berlin appears to be a burial ground for banging techno shrapnel.
It’s certainly not an “easy” listen, but neither is it a sarky “queasy” listen appropriating elements of “exotica”, as ambient music often does. It’s actually a bracing and abrasive experience, one which lives up to the artist’s intentions and should serve well in expanding the intensifying conversation around NON, its artists, and their motivations.