Boomkat Product Review:
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.