Boomkat Product Review:
Another astonishing debut from Uganda's Hakuna Kulala imprint, 'Raw Space' introduces sonic hypnotist Authentically Plastic, who breaks open East African polyrhythms while nodding to nu-surrealist moves from Dean Blunt, Speaker Music, Nazar and Hieroglyphic Being.
The Ugandan activist, DJ and producer has been making waves back home for the last few years - they were described as the "demon of the Nile" by local politicians after a performance at 2019's edition of Nyege Nyege fest - and here collapses digi-analog rhythmic forms on each other, sounding like Autechre's 'Amber' hotwired by Actress or DeForrest Brown Jr. It's defiant pulse music that sounds planetary and off-world at once - simultaneously fictule and waxy.
Authentically Plastic approaches music with the mindset of a DJ or academic, researching form and texture rigorously and applying those findings to their productions. Starting with chaotic improvisations, they chisel away at structures, overlaying patterns and ideas until polyrhythms emerge and hypnotic loops turn into labyrinthine psychedelic spirals. That's most evident on 'Anti-Fun', where Ugandan kadodi drum patterns are contorted into gristly DIY techno forms, refusing to settlle into any particular mode or template, but screaming with the unhinged intensity of power electronics or sheet noise.
Unsurprisingly for anyone familiar with their DJ sets, Authentically Plastic uses 'Raw Space' to lay out a political statement that's impossible to ignore. Using almost entirely rhythms, they sketch a blueprint of a contemporary East Africa that's trapped between structure and chaos, between the hazy ancient and the predicted far future. By inviting diasporic hybrid modes to communicate with an East African queer club intensity they inspire a conversation that's vibrant, necessary and contemporary. On 'Buul Okyelo', beat patterns splay across each other in way that propulsive but delightfully skewered, and while there isn't a discernible melody in sight, tuned tom hits create microtonal arpeggio blips that are as powerful as any Berghain minimal flourish.
'Instigator Barbie' offers some respite, pairing sex dungeon grot with hypnotic synth warbles and kickdrums that sound as if they're melting like plastic wrap under a magnifying glass. It makes for a vital electronic sound from an artist who's capable of smashing together parallel worlds - it's East African electronix, Detroit futurism, queer NYC club and underground London experimentalism all at once. So good.