Nkisi announces a debut album full of Kongo cosmology on Lee Gamble’s UIQ

Nkisi announces a debut album full of Kongo cosmology on Lee Gamble's UIQ
Photo: Alan Sahin

It is impossible to fully express the modern, international geopolitical importance of the various African images of the future — both in literature (Butler, Okorafor, Nneka Arimah) and in music (Marfox, Klein, Nkisi), to say the least. In what was I believe to be one of this site’s best recent features to date, the inimitable Baldr Eldursson writes:

…One must understand Afrofuturism as a per se diasporic futurology. Euro-America can’t become the generative setting of subaltern futurologies about the African continent itself, because the diasporic past and the native past — opposed to the diasporic present and the native present — produce different visions of the future. And these differences are important. Ignoring them distorts the empowering movement into a Spivakian obfuscation — even appropriation — of subaltern voices, because African futurologies intrinsically reject “Africa” as a homogenizing construct and embrace the historico-geographic hyper-specificities from which their materials emerge and against which they are mobilized.

So, let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: Nkisi, one of the sonic activists/academics responsible for the birth of NON Worldwide, has just announced her debut album 7 Directions. The double LP will be released on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label on January 18 of next year — so don’t worry about your “best of 2018” lists getting upset. Below, you can stream “VII,” a singular track that will remind you why we loved her 2017 EP so much.

7 Directions is a continuation of the Congolese-born, London-based DJ’s ongoing project to explore the futurism and cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo. The new record is both inspired by and indebted to the writings of Kongo scholar Dr Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau. Though the Bantu-Kongo identity itself comes within a breath of homogeny, the efforts of Nkisi and — to a greater extent — much of NON’s previous work focus indeed on the hyper-specificities of distinct African identities as mobilizing tools.

From Nkisi:

“When we hear before we see, voice and sound waves interplay between consciousness and hallucinations. Allowing the rhythmic to experiment with conditions of perception, disrupting predetermined expectations…Through manipulating rhythm, we create movements of energy… this energy determines collective behaviour and allows for new ways of producing knowledge…”

7 Directions is adorned in that project from head to toe. With a cover and sleeve design conceived by Nkisi and UIQ’s Dave Gaskarth from Dr. Fu-Kiau Bunseki’s “vee:”

Vee as portrayed by Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau
"Vee" 01

You can pre-order the record on vinyl and digital here.


7 Directions tracklisting:
01. I
02. II
03. III
04. IV
05. V
06. VI
07. VII

01. Imhotep, Asar. (2010). “Reinterpretations of the Ankh Symbol: Emblem of a Master Teacher.” Self-Published.

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