Kudoro – the music, dance and culture of Angola, has been described as “the awakening of a society.” For twenty seven years, with brief moments of peace, Angola’s civil war raged on between 1975 and 2002, resulting in more than five hundred thousand dead and over one million internally displaced.
At the end of the violence, Nazar, a Belgium raised artist, returned to his home in Angola and, in doing so, underwent his own journey into music, putting his own unique, confrontational spin on Angola’s traditional Kudoro, a term he has coined as “rough kudoro”.
“Since people can’t really criticise on the streets, they do it on the internet and through their art”, he says. “I couldn’t express my frustrations with what I was seeing on a daily basis and translate the uglier side; the existing Kudoro was too upbeat.”
Nazar debuts on Hyperdub with the 'Enclave' EP, a militaristic six tracker that trades in the infectious afrobeat rhythms of existing Kudoro for something altogether colder and closer to the realities of war, blending together the sounds of guns cocking, airstrikes occurring overhead and vocal samples from his father reading from a journal he kept during his time as an army general.
The project opens with ‘South Borders’. Gun shots can be heard in the distance as an organ erratically plays and icy synths circulate. There’s an immense sense of pride to be heard amongst the swells of noise - a concoction of dread, inspiration and necessity.
‘Warning Shots’ maintains the traditional Kudoro rhythm with an updated sense of urgency. There’s a real sense of anxiety as piercing synths and distorted sound paint a portrait of sweaty brows, wide eyes and ferociously beating hearts. It also represents the sound of upheaval, a sense of trauma and discontent towards Angola’s violent past.
‘Airstrike’ is a deeply personal highlight of the project. It features the producer recounting the stories of airstrikes that his mother, aunties and older sisters had to endure. The grimey rhythm and drone like noises are interrupted momentarily as guns are loaded. From darkened ambience the beat evolves into something altogether skippier as sirens warn of what floats above.
‘Enclave’ and ‘Konvoy’ share an experimental techno vibe, laced with grime and afrobeat. Both tracks are the most rhythmic of the record, even amongst the chaos that they represent. ‘Konvoy’ is a real treat. There is such a unique blend of sounds as we enter the last quarter. Influences from Africa, Europe and the UK meet to create some sort of kudoro/grime/afrobeat/experimental hybrid. It sounds like nothing else out there.
If what came before represents the anxieties and reality of war, ‘Ceasefire’ represents a look to the future, while never forgetting the past. This track features Nazar’s father reading about his time as an army general. It’s a deafening and striking look to the past. An honour to the unnamed dead as we try to piece together and make sense of the mass violence that was once so normal here.
The final tracks beauty lies within its ambience. During the first half, helicopters can be heard patrolling above, but as we enter the secondary water can be distinctly heard, its calming influence and tranquillity, combined with the voice of Nazar’s father, illustrating that no matter what may happen, cities can be built and re-built again, and the hope for a better future still lives on.
Words: Andrew Moore
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