CULTURE       13.04.22


Words by Luigi Monteanni

Artworks by Duma x Sven Harambasic

A sampled hand percussion fades in mid-tempo. Ambience chords fill the space around the bare drumline. Under the rowdy effects, you may sense a guitar playing. It’s impossible to say. A sudden, distorted sound breaks the precarious flow for one moment. Forty seconds before noise breaks in and takes over. Things go amok. Beats creep in, a relentless and brash. Your audio system is now just a machine pumping kinetic energy everywhere in your skull. A bass is pulsing someplace at almost regular intervals. Everything is FUBAR. Swinging, syncopated hits mash with phasing layers of buzzing noise. Instruments are everywhere, you just don’t know which ones. It’s fight or flight. It’s a pressure nosebleed caused by heavily blackened electronic noise.

A synth melody spreads epic undertones with ominous connotations briefly creating room between the shattered audio and your soft parts. But mind you, this distance is not solace. It’s just a by-product of a weird vertigo. A vertical vortex whose title, “Angels and Abysses”, is an apt one. Multiplicity and polarity are key in creating the resemblance of a dim-lit, abstract crevasse.

Superimposed and serialized speed-freak drums build with no real climax. An unfathomable series of fractured patterns delivered by means of industrial samples streaks arranged in blast beat downpours and gnarly extratonesque grinds à la Berzerk. A skin-peeling, ubiquitous pandemonium. The effect is equally bewildering and empowering. It’s the dangerous feeling that your body may go anywhere if traumatized to a point. Sounds are packets of sludgy compressed matter. Drums crumble one onto another in hammering pulses. This is exactly what you get. Nothing more, nothing less.

Extreme aural experiences have their own disorienting simplicity. Sonic onslaught is the only rule by which one must abide. While drums are pushed to map the tactile effects sound may produce on the listener, in the back of your eyes and all along your spine phasing drones and synth fraseggios craft an all-round grim climate. They remain part of a single aim: pure emotional and physical overdrive. Every second is like being smacked by some weird non-Newtonian fluid. A sonic entity with a strange plasticity. An abnormal viscosity under full force. It’s like drowning in a quicksand of scorching concrete. It feels like being a stunned animal hit by an epilepsy-inducing light beam. Retinas shock, eardrums damage. Eyes and posture expressing a primal response: confusion and terror.

It’s difficult to determine whether any subsequent track is more or less extreme than the previous. Tunes play one after the other with the rhythm of jammed automatic rifles ricocheting at chain-smoker pace. Elements and samples change, influences are shuffled and rearranged in fragmented narratives. Abruptly, throat and tongue and lungs and bowels shoot the savage productions into bludgeoning territories where vocal cords and guts are transducers of raw shrieks and anguished wails. Aural self-destruction bleeding out. A darkness quivering with punk bestiality, NO attitude, enslaved circuitries and heavy martiality. Extreme electronic conquest, splintered extraction of long-dead tones and buried sounds. Psy-op mischievousness with a swagger pace. A blunt bone dagger camouflaged in streetwear.

Truth is that, as clichéd as it is, this stuff does not respond to the clutches of genre; or to any clutches at all. It’s pure ghastly matter forced into life. Blind, idiot, godly energy hijacking disparate aural influences into a new style grounded in familiarity with menacing sounds. A bunch of wires and machinery exploited for a strange aesthetic transcendence through social and musical self-exile. A fringe of a fringe of transgressive subcultural capital. The unyielding artistic ethos of early avantgarde undertakings trying to craft the next apex of brutality. It’s just hybrid electronic and metal shit based on unequivocal directness and widespread havoc.

Sharing the ontology of hypnagogic apparitions and collagen coagulations, the delirious silhouettes of the dark magi emerge just above the cyanotic horizon of your electronic screen. Sort of bleak prophets using musical brute force to coerce and summon the shape of noise to come. The shallow milieu of a romanticism-laden expression. Sharply apt for a series of new unpalatable musical constructs anticipating what’s next like sensory prophecies. Auditive still life pointing at something in the rear-view mirror past the range of vision and behind your corneas. Soundwaves as daunting broken signals, inauspicious cues bound to the certainty that something HUGE is about to happen. Cheerless bards of forthcoming debris.

Twenty seconds of jammed human sounds in a short, mid-range communication breakdown. A messed-up scroll of frantic frequencies picked up by lost dogs, exhausted biological membranes and forsaken chemical compounds. An otherwise barely perceivable foretoken for humans out of the perilous range. Small ant-like units peeking from the safety distance of an ashen, nuclear desert. Out of a freezing void where perception overlaps with inexorable warfare or embarrassing instantaneous annihilation. A zone where violent fatigue and desperate weakness become self-taught, invincible surrender. You spell it “self-sacrifice” but might as well pronounce it “blessed withdrawal”. Hail to you, almighty usurper!

In this post-post-post-post desolation scenario, the only perceptible sign of life is the septic embryo of tomorrow’s youth dragging its feet backwards from an anonymous, scarred, bound-to-be fate. Cursed time travellers riding wheels of misfortune. An informal and unorganized clutter of tangled limbs, survivalist practices and discontinuous heavy breath. An acephalous Rat King sprouting in all directions and hopping on street lights’ blank white spots, thumping on the otherwise unlit road surface. Its dedicated, unauthorized OST smells of slowly melting plastic and burning motherboards. A grim soundtrack for a future in ruins. If wishes were motherships, beggars would ride the sky. This unavowable gang of unaware affiliates, this sinister allegiance astonishingly taps into local social orders and assemblages where extreme sonorities are still the Devil’s music. A disenfranchised youth suffering the stigma of paranoid satanic panic and generalized moral anxiety.

Nihilistic as it may be, the uncanniest of all guests brings tainted gifts. The sermon’s grudges are life-affirming, for twisted are the ways of sonic prodigies. These are losers’ hymns inspiring people to be the best versions of themselves, remain united and fight back from a trench of grimy resignation. To dwell in darkness in order to find connection and freedom. Hostility is a strange flower. A coven of carcasses watering a garden. Every song oozes life as the unfolding of everyday existence. The productions are infested with samples from immediate surroundings like swarming pests. Audio bugs providing the tracks with the very texture of reality. Boisterous chatting, occasional laughter and sounds from adjacent environments fill the album. Melancholic soundbites leaking daily life. Hear this. The record is a prison forcing stillness on a restless being. A furtive shot of an infrared camera reflected in the eyes of an unaware wild beast.

Ordinary hardships of human life are laid bare for all to witness in lyrics too muddy and obscured by the compulsory attrition of false vocal chords. An ultra-perceptive common sense is disclosed by the pleasures of corporeal misuse. From a silent whim leaking out of the brain as uncontrollable toxic waste, through the lowercase scratches of paper and pen, to a dart firing from blind intestines, the howlings serve as left-field paths to explore the peasant poetry of uneventful happenings. Being broke, taking drugs, finding love or hate, walking contemporary Africa & the world.

Somewhere amidst and beyond these walls of sounds, this glass maze turned transparent dumpster and landfill, Nairobian Sheng, a creole of English and Swahili, is crawling like an epitome of vernacular practicality. It’s just how they talk. Music and lyrics come up as a feral koan where everything is just here and now. Tangible tribulations of experience. This unholy mesh, a by-product of an acid, labyrinthine disarray of haphazardly generated impulses, scores life by exploring the sonic response to an unfurling, punishing survival. Of all ways and manners of living with trouble.

In this bunch of deranged tracks, the insane friction against the mundane is alive with vibrance and peculiarity. While we experience the celebration of twitching flesh, the apex of untold earthly delights, mundanity is also an uncomfortable suit one has to escape. An exhausting weight exerted by a long colonial history becoming blatant capitalism and structural violence. A routine causing alienation and truant proximity towards a series of institutions putting individuals in slow-paced loopholes. Of families pressuring you into depressing walks of life and the lack of otherwise visible perspectives. A sad, boring Sisyphus roll requiring breaking free with the hyperkineticity of seizures.

It’s all about living with the music. An open house to be impetuously and impulsively occupied by unwanted visitors. Creative action is a reflection of what goes through the skin and its matching committed lifestyle. If reality is one of normalized alienation, music must express the galvanizing abnormality of society’s denial. We are far from art as a methodical, disciplined venture. Scattered but intense rehearsals and jams leak out of the claustrophobic knots of canonical studio sessions interspersed with random metropolitan slacking, drinking gatherings, skating accidents, unrestrained swearing without an object and moments of solitude. Sounds play as a soundtrack for internal turmoil. Let’s be honest, that’s the shit that normally plays in your head. The shit playing in the head of all the wretched scumfucks trudging through the dirt of this ill-starred planet. It’s an erratic approach with no aspirations or expectations. It shares the honesty of an unwavering suicide mission by means of sonic guerrilla. The beguiling density and opacity of a bizarre uncut mineral.

But don’t be fooled, this caustic spontaneity is matched by equal humbleness. One of the staples of this lowly philosophy is that no one and nothing deserves worship. Yes, the magi’s audio presence exudes doom-laden preachy vibes. A paradoxically unsurprising by-product in a genealogy of evangelical ministers turned deathmongers. Nevertheless, in this cult of futility, no other temper is allowed when dealing with authority: No Worship. It is not a matter of an individualist stance as much as a mechanism of roguish defence against a plethora of burdensome, invasive foreign bodies. This music recounts the world in a peculiar and alternative way: like a subculture’s subculture participating in a transnational underground with the hardly underestimated global reach of late globalization’s sonic vectors and genuine interest for contamination.

In this music, the global and the local flow into each other in different ways, hinting at how linkages between musicians and individuals are an oath sworn across lines of geographical ties and attitudinal correspondence. Imaginary frontiers trying to conjure the blurry contours of the duo’s bluntly uncompromising musical practice and nitty-gritty street sagacity but also of their perception of the world as a whole. Such an approximate manifesto being two words only: f*cking limitless.

While our eyes are firmly and perversely stuck on this endless present created by the flow, mouths dry and cracked, eyes sanguine and gaping, it is possible to notice a thin but solid thread uniting past and future. References to and impact of ethnic origin are exploited in between tinnitus-inducing crushes, weaving a narrative of personal courage. A rite of passage in which in order to become a man, one has to kill a lion in the bush and wash in its blood. An inheritance transformed by means of mythological euthanasia and the ambiguities of liminal ancestry in a group of kids partying and drinking Konyagi, the ‘tears of the lion’ liquor. A secular purification threshold to discover if you’re real or not. If you can survive, then you belong. We’re playing the game of the ages. Centenary roots planted in a lush swimming pool.

This last image moves constantly away from an exoticized heritage. The customary tale takes darker turns with more modern comings of age, superimposing traditional warriors with urban stray kids and future pidgins. In a time when lions are disappearing, this reeks of utter materialism and raw reality. The subtle but graphic imagery is a consonant sensory stun grenade with claws and fangs. Butchered guts abandoned on a table. It’s the fact that we all are walking meat, bodily fluids, decomposing tissue. That we all have to strive for survival one way or another. The sound you hear is akin to some kind of trap house PSA. A tutorial about how to exist in everyday life. You can find so much content just on the street, and it’s just all about that, just being yourself.

With new WIP material and the perspective of a number of unprecedented historical clusterfucks, Duma participates in the burgeoning global history of musical extremes. A hardcore continuum haemorrhaging outside the now constrictive boundaries of electronic genres. A nonlinear tale of blood and wires, contaminated African soil, dark corners of human life, enlightening violent escapism, vile urbanization processes and the visceral screams of global underground youth.

The content is part of X Magazine and linked to its lunch together with a performance by Duma taking place on the 29th April at 9pm at NFQ.
The performance coincides with the release of the “Euthanasia in Asia” limited-edition cassette which is part of the of the special edition of X Mag.