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10 Tracks and Alliances

Selected by Nyege Nyege
Listicle
Listicle
Alliance
Dance music
Electronic music
Kempala
listening
Listicle
Singeli
Uganda

When Sounds of Sisso was released in June 2017, the global electronic music scene briefly stopped in its tracks. The compilation shed light on a previously little-known music genre from Tanzania, singeli, which is characterized by wild rhythmic salvoes, hysteric melodies, the grotesque use of sound effects, and raw lyric fragments in Swahili – and all this happens at breakneck tempos. The compilation can be found in the release catalogue of the Ugandan collective Nyege Nyege, founded by the expatriates Arlen Dilsizian and Derek Debru, and the same is true for Sounds of Pamoja, its unofficial sequel recently announced to be released in the fall.Nyege Nyege knows how to establish connections with just about everything. The collective’s annual festival gathers the global scene in Kampala to play and listen to adventurous music. The contacts made and sustained in the context of the festival frequently find their way into the output of the label also associated with Nyege Nyege. As a result, its catalogue includes surprising pairings of artists that transcend both geographical and aesthetic distances. For V/A Nyege Nyege compiled a list of tracks that provide insights into the label catalogue as well as the greater network of the collective. What unites the selections are the collaborations – or alliances – various artists entered into for longer or shorter periods of time.

Text Nyege Nyege
Photo PROVIDED BY THE AUTHORS

Afrorack x Javier Díez-EnaModugand

Brian Bamanya from Uganda is a self-taught electronic music composer and modular synth builder. For ‘Modugand’ he remotely meets with Spanish Theremin virtuoso Javier Díez-Ena. The encounter is mesmerizing in how natural it is for them to play together. The anachronism of a century old electronic music device improvising so elegantly with a DIY-built synth made today in Uganda creates a space out of time, reminiscent of a jazz impro.”

Errorsmith x Jay MittaJam for Sisso

“Jay Mitta from Dar Es Salaam met up with Berlin-based producer Errorsmith, inventor of the additive synthesis software RAZOR, who had been entranced by singeli performances at the Nyege Nyege Festival as well as the creativity, freedom, and impact that the signature sound of the Tanzanian underground has on the dancefloors. This track captures some of that frenetic excitement of the festival, as well as the friendships that are made there, and the sincere exchange and collaborations that ensue between artists that constantly want to expand on their musical horizons.”

Nkisi x Gabber Modus Operandi – Totemon Rising (AV mixtape)

No Bounds Festival from Sheffield and legendary Indonesian netlabel Yes No Wave Music run by Wok The Rock invited Congolese-Belgian producer Nkisi and Indonesian duo Gabber Modus Operandi to create a new piece of work. ‘Totemon Rising,’ the AV mixtape that resulted from the project, brings forth shared inspirations, common struggles, and overlapping worldviews.”

MC Yallah x Mdou Moctar – Tala Tannam

“In 2021, musician Mdou Moctar from Niger invited Kampala-based MC Yallah for a collaboration on their album Afrique Victime. ‘Tala Tannam’ is an ode to African Unity—it’s a crossover of genres that feels both natural and unexpected at the same time. Hearing the track for the first time, MC Yallah felt a deep connection with the Tuareg songwriter and musician. MC Yallah chants in English, Kiswahili, and Luganda on this release out on Matador, with her producer Debmaster from France on mixing duties.”

Slikback x Hyph11E – ISHU

“Kenya and China share political and economic ties, but only few cultural exchanges. Sub-cultures, collectives, and online communities all have the power to overcome this instance—like the collaboration between Kenyan producer Slikback and Shanghai-based musician Hyph11E. The collaboration also hints at a shift from the old world of electronic music to today’s scene.”

HHY & The Kampala Unit – Lithium Blast

“Throughout the years, Portuguese musician Jonathan Saldhana aka HHY has learned to be a catalyst and facilitator of energies and the instigator of new languages with his SOOPA collective in Porto. For ‘Lithium Blast,’ Jonathan teamed up with Ugandan musicians Florence Lugemwa on the trumpet and Omutaba on percussion.”

INSIN aka Lil Asaf x Elvin Brandhi – SHOOK

“Welsh musician Freya Edmondes aka Elvin Brandhi has collaborated with a wide range of colleagues—from guitarist Eugene Chadbourne and composer Michael Fischer to Will Edmondes, Freya’s father, with whom she makes up the duo Yeah You. After spending some time in North Africa in 2018, she teamed up with Palestinian producer and MC Bashar Suleiman aka Lil Asaf and created this intense piece named ‘SHOOK.’”

Scotch Rolex x Lord Spikeheart – Success

“Japan has a rich history of noise, grindcore, and harsh electronics, and DJ Scotch Egg was a prominent figure in that scene. Under his new moniker Scotch Rolex—named after a popular Ugandan street food—he created an album for Hakuna Kulala. Among others, Nairobi-based Lord Spikeheart appears on the album. The collaboration provides proof of their shared influences.”

Chrisman x Wulffluw XCIV – MOSKITA

“Soundcloud is great to connect with peers and find potential collaborators. Basically you can meet anyone from anywhere on the platform. Congolese producer Chrisman has connected with many musicians over the years on Soundcloud including Russian producer Wulffluw XCIV. With him, Chrisman wrote this deadly taraxina bass influenced track. It shows how music can move and create new common languages.”

Kadodi x Bamba Pana – WATERANGA

“‘WATERANGA’ is a surprising but necessary collaboration between the singeli producer Bamba Pana from Tanzania and the Ugandan percussion troupe Kadodi. The track was literally done in less than 15 minutes, which might be a sign of the deep sonic resonance that spans the continent.”

Listicle
Alliance
Dance music
Electronic music
Kempala
listening
Listicle
Singeli
Uganda