Nunu Mind Body Dialogue

[Astral Plane; 2016]

Styles: desiring-machines, posthuman club, cacophony
Others: WWWINGS, Antwood, KABLAM, Odeko

Nunu is a producer of schizophrenic club music. On Mind Body Dialogue, his first release, tracks go off in all directions, tracing the sonic and ontological interfaces between human and machine. Like other producers operating in this posthuman club milieu (e.g., Odeko, KABLAM, Antwood), Nunu draws from punishing beats and textures, pulling the listener through a series of intense emotional states. The inclusion of sober keys and vocal melodies on tracks like the unfortunately-titled “Punani” provide moments of levity, but by and large this is distorted, claustrophobic music.

Where Nunu sets himself apart from his contemporaries is in his approach to momentum. The album’s five tracks unspool gradually, periodically punctuated by viscerality. “Core” is a case in point. It’s a drum workout, all claps, hits, chants, and low-end, almost gqom-like in its deliberate pace. The unhurried approach enables the underlying thrust of the album to gradually become clear: it is an interrogation of desire in the contemporary period.

On the title track, a piston-like beat is contrasted with a vocal appeal for corporeality (“I just want a body”). This somatic desire is vocalized by and through a set of machinic signifiers, providing a post-anthropocentric perspective on desire in the age of the cyborg. As humans draw closer to the machine, we come to be penetrated by it, taking on its characteristics, becoming subject to its flows (becoming-machine). The human is decentered or, more accurately, revealed in its inherent fragmentation and fictionality. Its desires are reorganized, rearticulated, and redirected. This is the human as desiring-machine, operating through production (of desire, of music, of critique) rather than lack. “Gear” provides another snapshot of this desiring-machine, using a Logos-like grime deconstruction to gradually ratchet up the intensity, a voice pleading “I’m in need” and the track roaring behind it.

Mind Body Dialogue succeeds in conveying the alterity of cyborg desire through the aggressiveness of its sonic palette, but its relentless cacophony can become wearying at times. In this context, final track “Cog” is both an outlier and a relief. It’s buoyant, foregrounding the vocals and keys concealed in previous tracks. Here, Nunu shows off his playful side, allowing the track to teeter on the edge, only a bass line away from becoming a weirdo-house jam. In its serenity and capaciousness, it seems to gesture toward a moment of acceptance, when human and machine are fused together in (momentary) harmony. 

Through its exploration of the interstices between human and machine, as well as its contrast of human and machinic elements, Mind Body Dialogue comes to read like speculative fiction, reflecting back on the contemporary human from a near and palpable future. It fits in well with Astral Plane Recordings’s burgeoning discography: an accomplished, exploratory release, staking out new ground in the spaces across and between the internet and the club, the human and the non-human.

Links: Nunu - Astral Plane

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