It's fitting that the London-based, Belgian-Congolese artist Nikisi has launched her own label. Over the past five years, Melika Ngombe Kolongo has released records bursting with ideas, her deep dives into Bantu cosmology and psychoacoustics informing an epic convergence of European hard dance style, IDM and African polyrhythms. No one's doing it quite like Nkisi.
Kolongo describes INITIATION as "a new label/series exploring the hidden phantasmagorical properties of rhythm... a secret drum language only understood by the initiated," but leaves the description at that. Since the three-track opening shot focuses on ideas better left unsaid, we'll focus on the music.
The most-cited interview with Nkisi aptly describes her sound as hovering between "dream and the dance floor." It's this dichotomy, rendered sonic, that gives INT001 its tension and beauty. The opener, "The Truth Is Elsewhere," begins with seven seconds of shrill noise, as if to send the uninitiated packing. Hard drums and chopped-up white noise pile scattershot rhythms on top of each other, but soon enough, a calm, beautiful synth motif becomes the track's focus. This tug-of-war between beauty and chaos is also evident in the incredible closer, "Phantasmagoria," in which an insistent synth—oddly reminiscent of Konono Nº1's electrified thumb piano—dances wildly with a tumbling snare pattern. Eventually, Kolongo drops some rave chords over the noisy rhythmic scrum. The pads hint at euphoria but slowly drift into more ominous territory.
Tracklist01. The Truth is Elsewhere
02. What Comes Next