The Netherlands are a historical centre of colonial power. At the forefront of the country stands Rotterdam, Europe‘s largest seaport, and home to 180 nationalities. Its maritime expansion was intrinsically linked to imperial expansionism, including slave trading and colonial slavery in the Americas, Africa and Asia. This painful history sits uneasily with the city’s modern cosmopolitan image and its large population of ‘new Rotterdammers’ with colonial roots. Like those of Animistic Beliefs, the duo of Vietnamese-Chinese and Dutch-Moluccan heritage.
The act is menacing yet dreamlike: machine-driven electro absorbs cyclical droning melodies which are supplemented by punchy kick drums and ghostly vocals. Their live action does not involve any laptops or DJ-setups, and relies solely on self-built modular systems and drum machines. Animism is the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence and these two for sure feel that all this gear and heavy-duty equipment has much more to say.
A half-Polish, half-Malian Parisian who occasionally enjoys Hungarian songs – these and more elements all add to the unique talent that calls himself Bambounou. On top of everything, he has just announced a new EP in the form of a wax candle sculpture of his body. ‘La Sagrada’, the artist says, was inspired by the beauty of La Sagrada Familia’s unfinished architecture in Barcelona, Spain.
Before redefining the Parisian club sound and packing it up for the world to hear, Bambounou grew up in the city’s 13th District, also called Chinatown. ‘People tend to hate the 13th District, as they think it’s quite ugly because the area is half tower blocks and half really nice buildings, and pretty much nothing really ever happens there. It’s my favourite district, but it is a bit of a ghetto’, – said the artist in one of his interviews a few years ago. In his production, the intimate connection – a conversation, even – with the space surrounding him is clearly heard and can even be visualized in one’s head. Always considering the room he is playing in, we wonder what Bambounou will make of the former metal factory in Kaunas.
For the curious wanderer, a discrete Rennes reveals an unprecedented diversity of heritage. Few cities contain as many notable buildings from different eras and architectural styles. City’s history goes back more than 2,000 years. Needless to say, throughout the city you will find dozens of 1920s art deco and modernist apartment buildings with a certain regional touch. Since the 1950s, Rennes has grown in importance through rural flight: the city developed extensive building plans to accommodate upwards of 200,000 inhabitants bringing vibrant ideas, different backgrounds and various influences with them.
The music of the Black Zone Myth Chant is everything the same and more. Bringing together different deco ideas from colourful psychedelia, raw African percussion, hypnotic mysticism, urban footwork of the USA and noisy yet lifting soundscapes of French experimentalism. He uses loops, percussive sounds, fuzzy keyboards and obscure sunken melodies to create a ritual space that combines aspects of exotica, ethno-flux, drone and minimalism.
Just as modernist architecture became an optimistic way of life and growth for Kaunas, the new yet temporary capital of reborn Lithuania, after WW1, a similar process took place in the Philippines a couple of decades later, after WW2. In the post-colonial period, the Filipino architects not only took on the pure surfaces and precise forms of modern architecture but infused the structural decisions with national elements. Thus, globally recognised architecture that still bears the national spirit is indeed a common thing between the Philippines and Lithuania.
Interestingly enough, Corin, the Filipina-Australian electronic producer, composer and performer working in the field of performance art, sound design, theatre and club spaces, has become interested in her cultural connections to the Philippines, her mother’s birthplace and the landscape connected to it. “I’ve already begun to hear how it is influencing my creative output. Over the next year, I hope to produce an entire album which explores this connection”, said Corin in her recent interview with 15questions. We hope she gives away some of her current creative endeavours during her performance.
Considered to be an open-air museum, Paris encompasses all kinds of different styles and magnificent examples still standing. Also, it is an unusually coherent architectural creature. Paris’ modern buildings have developed gradually out of earlier styles; palaces and mansions have survived by transforming into apartments and shops, and most streets harbour a range of buildings from various centuries.
French producer Krikor Kouchian is as eclectic and sophisticated in music as his current hometown of Paris is in architectural discourse. His discography reaches back to the late 90s and a variety of different styles, from lively and housy club tracks to chopped up micro-sampled techno, dreamy ambient, even dabbling in rock vs. electronic crossovers. His very own sound of many faces unfolds in diverse directions: he always moves music-wise but still contains consistency.
During the late 1950s and the early 1960s, many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa gained their independence. Just like in interwar Kaunas, architecture was one of the principal means for the countries to express their national identity. The current face of the capital cities of countries including Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia, features represents some of the best examples of the 60s and 70s architecture. The Kenyan producer Slikback has had the chance to be inspired by both his native country and Uganda. In its capital Kampala, he joined the Boutiq studios and began to find his sound which fuses a diverse sonic palette borrowing from footwork, trap, grime and a variety of contemporary underground African club styles into a uniquely accessible dark presentation.
The cleanliness and the simplicity of modernist architecture opens a window to exploit and manipulate the style in many different forms, adapting it to the local culture and landscape. As the Kaunas modernism developed into the so-called “national style”, so did the other offshoots around the world. All modernism focuses on a connection to the open-air but California modernism spins it differently. More closely to specific site, landscape and location which means that each project is profoundly unique.
Californian by birth, but Berliner for most of his adult life, James Whipple, aka M.E.S.H., blurs the line between sound design, grime and intelligent dance music. The artist began making sound mixtures as a teenager and this sweeping collage style that can be traced all the way through to his idiosyncratic productions today. He himself describes his music as building up little architecture with the effects chains, while the instruments become characters within that structure.
The elements of Florida’s architecture are rooted in practical responses to the state’s humid, subtropical climate. Spanish-style homes are commonly built in states like Florida, California and other parts of America’s Southwest. A Florida house plan embraces the elements of many styles that allow comfort during the heat of the day. It is especially reminiscent of the Mediterranean house with its shallow, sloping tile roof and verandas.
Florida-Berlin! The geography of the context of Nick Klein’s surroundings and the artist himself is as cosmopolitan as it gets. So is his approach to the music, which is not something of a stereotype while thinking of America’s dance music scene, especially of Florida’s. Nick makes everything a little bit more raw, raunchy and freaky. Not to mention sweaty, as his original hometown.
Melika Ngombe Kolongo was born in Congo, raised in Belgium, and began using the moniker Nkisi after moving to London in 2012. Gravitating toward the more aggressive side of dance music, yet maintaining a heavy emotional factor as well as a sense of dreaminess, she began producing music in addition to being resident at a club night called Endless. Her first releases, 16 and 21, appeared on Doomcore, the Hamburg-based label run by Low Entropy, in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Nkisi produces intense, powerful club tracks equally influenced by African polyrhythms, hardcore techno, and ’70s Italian horror films. The London-based musician and visual artist is one of the co-founders of NON Worldwide, a collective of experimental artists from across the African diaspora.
Based in Shanghai, Osheyack is an integral member of the city’s electronic music scene that centres around ALL Club. The venue itself is located in a fascinating area near Changle Lu, a historic road in what was the French Concession between 1849 and 1943. In the 1920s, it was considered a premier residential area of Shanghai. Among new residential buildings also rose shikumen, a local architectural phenomenon – a cultural blend of the elements found in Western architecture with traditional Lower Yangtze architecture and social behaviour.
Today, the Changle Lu area is a top location in many ways, bursting with both old and new, commercial and underground, as is the case of ALL Club. Osheyack, its resident, adds to the unique mix with his fusion of IDM, gabber, techno, ambient and drone music. When not playing live for the legendary 云CLOUD night, his music can be heard soundtracking art installations and fashion shows across Shanghai. And we can’t express how much we love his debut album, ‘Sadomodernism’. The name, too.
Art director by day, by night Yasmina Dexter trades mood boards for decks as Pandora’s Jukebox – DJ and sound producer. Her sonic assemblages offer hypnotic scapes with multi-textured take on electronic music. Her monthly “Renegade Soundwaves” for NTS radio are low pitch/ high IQ sonic rituals, for those who get hungry at night. Her sound is made of brutalist basslines, nostalgic yet modernised abstractions and techno with a capital NO.
Taking her first steps in fetish dungeons and east London’s late 90’s squat rave scene, Pandora’s Jukebox made it all the way up to Tate Turbine hall with NTS and Raf Simons all-female army of djs for Calvin Klein’s after party, caught the eye of the Berghain Saule experiment, Panorama bar and escalating to Berghain main dancefloor 13th bday party, becoming an institution among the most seminal underground clubs in Europe and North America. Dexter holds residency at Cicciolina Paris, GAF and she’s a long-standing Art Basel’s noisemaker, solidifying her flirt with fashion and art. Dexter also makes original production to accompany short films with clients like Dazed Digital, Vogue Italia and Nowness.
The Serbian capital Belgrade has wildly varying architecture, from the centre of Zemun, typical of a Central European town, to the more modern architecture and spacious layout of New Belgrade. After Josip Broz Tito’s 1948 split with Stalin, Yugoslavia turned increasingly to the West, returning to the modernism that had characterized the region’s pre-war architecture. The return to modernism is best exemplified in Vjenceslav Richter’s widely acclaimed 1958 Yugoslavia Pavilion at Expo 58, the open and light nature of which contrasted the much heavier architecture of the Soviet Union.
As mixed as the Belgrade’s panorama is the local electronic duo of Tapan, made of stage veterans Nebojša Bogdanović (aka Schwabe) and Goran Simonoski. Tapan escapes simple categorisations, especially since it evolved into a live quartet with Jamal Al Kiswani on saxophone and flute and Fedja Franklin on drums and percussion, building connections between industrial electronics, Balkan jazz improvisation and the unique pulse of eastern percussion. All together filtered through the eyes of the modern, cross-roaded mentality of Belgrade.