Boomkat Product Review:
After a searing intro on Nyege Nyege Tapes tipped by Aphex Twin, Uganda’s Nihiloxica group their possessed percussive energies in a killer full length for Crammed Discs - home to the band’s spiritual brethren Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Ndagga Rhythm Force.
Equal parts drivingly rhythmic and ruggedly dissonant, Nihiloxica’s sound has won over swathes of festival and club crowds overt the past few years with a swingeing blend of traditional drumming and noisy electronic shredding that arguably makes any other band on the line-up pale in comparison. After two tapes on the trail-blazing Nyege Nyege Tapes in 2017 and 2019, the sextet turn it out hot and heavy on Belgium’s Crammed discs, an ideal and sympathetic home for their rooted but experimental sound which comes off like the metallic klang of Konono No.1 spliced with a punkish adjunct to Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, but firmly located in various Ugandan musical traditions.
Cannily named after the Lugandan word for the Marabou Stork - a properly fugly carrion bird covered in boils which is also Uganda’s unofficial national bird - ‘Kaloli’ is a canny metaphor for the band’s sound; at once ravenous and gangling, but effortlessly entrancing when in flight. As such the album feels like a fearsome creature engorged on scrapped electronic detritus, spreading its wings in 11 semi-cyborgian ways that bring together the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble’s four expert Bugandan drummers with their two UK member’s stripped down trap drums and plugged inputs.
Where previous outings were recorded at Nyege Nyege’s Boutiq Studio in Kampala, this one captures the band recording at Bradford, UK’s Hohm Studio in the days after supporting Aphex Twin. Gassed on that experience, they commit a sprawling but tight LP that conceptually tours the rich rhythms of Uganda, from the Darwin swerve of ‘Giunjkola’ style from Central Uganda, to the rolling swang of ‘Busoga’ from the country’s east, and the dread trample of ‘Bwola’ from northern Uganda, all heightened in tension by pq’s swarming psychedelic production to incendiary effect on the lead single ‘Black Kaveera’, and lushly dubbed out in ‘Mukaagafeero’.