Boomkat Product Review:
Hot on the heels of last year's gqom and Afrohouse mutating introductory EP 'Ku Mwezi' comes Congolese producer Chrisman's skillful debut album, deploying 10 tracks of experimental tarraxinha headmelt that'll surely grab anyone into Normal Nada, DJ Lag or Nkisi.
On 'Ku Mwezi', it was Chrisman's ability to absorb different sounds and make them his own that stood out - whether grabbing elements from trap, Afrohouse, gqom or mahraganat, everything was coaxed into a buzzing dancefloor template. He manages to work the same magic on "Makila", roughly sticking to a tempo-shifted tarraxinha model, but snowballing through global bass sounds and discarding the fluff. Related to the Angolan dance and musical form kizomba, tarraxinha traditionally removes the melody and tightens the beat; Chrisman retains the sexy swing, but pushes the tempo down - attempting to conjure a similar vibe to South Africa's gqom, using synthesized drones, thick bass and abstract, reverberating textures to set the mood.
'Alarmed for Passion' is a statement of intent, with a neck-snapping Angolan pulse that's offset by wobbly Durban low-end, electroid clicks, handclaps and psychedelic FX, 'Apana Gusa' takes a similar route, looping overdriven tuned TR-808 booms around machine-gun snares and syncopated bumps. On tracks like the phenomenal 'Angels of Kivu' and 'No Umeme', Chrisman looks home, using overdriven electric likembé sounds and coming across like a 2020s answer to Konono No. 1. Then there's the title track, finding a space for ratcheting snares and spooky pads to rub against booming subs and woodblock hits - it's music that straddles a purely hybrid dance space, existing to push African experimental sounds into defiant fresh places.
Chrisman's fusion sound is risky but elevated by an engineering prowess that gives his productions a rare edge. It's hardly surprising that he's currently at the helm of the Nyege Nyege/Hakuna recording studios in Kampala - anyone who's even remotely interested in where dance music might be heading in the near future needs to hear it - fans of Nazar, Slikback, Rian Treanor or Nídia, this one's for you.