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Nkisi 7 Directions UIQ

Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but currently based in London, DJ and producer Nkisi has spent the past few years steadily gaining popularity for her wildly inventive blend of experimental electronic music and traditional African polyrhythms, all released under her NON Records imprint. Now she’s releasing her first proper album, an abstract collection of seven expansive and world-building tracks entitled 7 Directions. Simply numbered I through VII, each instrumental song builds upon the last, pulsing and spiralling, until the entire record ends up sounding like the ambient noise of a salvaged spaceship idling in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Named after spiritual Congolese totems, Nkisi’s music draws deeply from the well of her African heritage, but just as importantly, reaches for the future, an Afrofuturistic hymn that seeks to translate an ancient language into something beyond modernity. I is a rolling dreamscape of muted synths and ghostly percussion that deftly sets the stage for the rolling, driving force of II, a 10-minute journey that finds a way to sound simultaneously meditative and frenetic.

Nkisi’s use of syncopated beats is really what sets 7 Directions apart from a lot of similar techno being released at the moment. Her tremendous understanding of rhythm creates an endlessly engrossing ebb and flow. Even though parts of 7 Directions may mesh into each other a little too seamlessly at times, it’s a searing debut, and an auditory manifesto for an artist who will surely continue to explore and expand on their culture in even more unique and surprising ways.