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Nihiloxica was released on Nyege Nyege Tapes on the 30th of November 2017 and printed on 100 limited cassettes. The eponymous debut EP brought indigenous Ugandan drums in tune with dark, forboding techno inspired synth lines in a project designed for mayhem in the live environment.
In a collaboration with Kampala’s Nilotika Cultural Ensemble – a charitable organisation in the city that promotes drumming and tailoring as a means of ‘spiritual upliftment’ for the youth – the UK’s Spooky-J and pq bring the spirit of what dance music means in the sweaty basements of Leeds and inject it into the ancient Bugandan drumming tradition of Uganda.
Spooky-J and pq corrupt the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble with techno sensibilities and a whole load of darkness. While Ugandan music often treads the happier side of life, Nihiloxica brings the drums of Buganda and ships them to the underworld and back in a live project designed to utilise the trance-like state created by indigenous percussion troupes and fuse it with club music from the basements of Europe designed to achieve exactly the same goals.
Nihiloxica is the product of a deep history between Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Festival and the Nilotica Cultural Ensemble. Under the leadership of Jajja Kalanda, the Ensemble provides an outlet for the youth of Kampala, teaching spiritual, musical and tailoring practices to underprivileged communities around the city and performing at various cultural events.
The rhythmic force of the Nilotika Cultural Ensemble – a local Bugandan drum set and a troupe of powerful players – began to perform at a club night in Kampala’s blossoming electronic scene called Boutiq Electroniq (namesake of the first release on Nyege Nyege Tapes by Disco Vumbi) and here the first merging of live Bugandan drums with electronic sounds was made. The DJs at the embryonic Nyege club night would lay down electronic tracks, and Nilotika would jam along. The result was interesting, but only a one-way conversation.
In 2017 Spooky-J, a jazz drummer and producer releasing on Blip Discs, and pq, a sound engineer and synthesist, came to Kampala ahead of Nyege Nyege Festival, presently in it’s third year, to write, rehearse, and record a set of live recordings that would form the group’s debut EP, Nihiloxica, that was released to widespread critical acclaim on Nyege Nyege Tapes. The sound showcased on this EP is just the beginning of a long, dark conversation between two cultures, and the language is only becoming more developed.