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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Music

UK’s 2021 work visa for European DJs, musicians poses challenge to cultural exchange

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 24 Feb 2020 6:14 pm

Europe’s cultural integration has made it an oasis for electronic music and music exchange. That makes new hard-line British policy a potential setback.

The bright spot: by announcing the policy now, and introducing legislation, there is an opportunity for examination and (hopefully) change, before the policy becomes law.

Ironically, I’m just back from Kaliningrad hosting an event with the generous support of the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow and the British Council. At a time when Russian and UK diplomatic relations were frayed – even closing the consulate in St. Petersburg – musical exchange has opened the door to communication and cooperation. And even though I’m not a UK or European citizen, I’m hugely grateful for the ways in which UK diplomacy has enriched the music landscape worldwide.

I think that illustrates the importance of communicating about these changes – and understanding them in some larger context, even beyond the European one.

Reading the policy

To be clear, it is possible to overstate the UK policy – and if you’re on techno Twitter or other social media close to the issue, you’ve likely read some pretty draconian commentary. So let’s pull apart how the policy works, as described by Home Office policy documents and other reporting. (Major disclaimer: as an American, and a German resident, and very much not an immigration lawyer, my interpretation should be taken with a grain of salt. Knowing the readership of this site, we probably do have a UK immigration lawyer somewhere, so by opening my mouth as usual I tend to trigger some more enlightened discussion.)

Maybe the biggest surprise, as Mixmag points out, is that the Home Office policy statement is 180 degrees apart from the Government’s own Culture Minister. He said just last month that “it’s absolutely essential that free movement for artists is protected post-2020.” [See MusicWeek – and cultural minister Nigel Adams was himself a Brexiteer.] It also seems like a blow for UK-based music tech like Focusrite/Novation, who benefit from being part of a diverse and international community.

How it works now: Free movement for EU nationals is one of the fundamental treaties that makes the European Union what it is. That freedom of movement includes the right to seek work anywhere inside the EU – for all citizens. So if you’re an artist or DJ, this means you can hop over to the UK and play the gig, and it’s no different than doing it in the country of your citizenship, like Poland, Romania, or Spain.

This does not necessarily apply to residents of the country; the freedom of movement law is written for nationals of those member countries.

Free movement – EU nationals [European Commission]

“Now” is guaranteed for purposes of labor movement through the end of 2020, as part of the negotiated transition period for the UK leaving the EU.

How it would work from 2021, if adopted: The new policy is part of a larger point-based immigration system overhaul, which is also what the Trump Administration is advocating for the USA. As part of that larger shift, it tightens requirements for income self-sufficiency, even for temporary work by artists, and eliminates existinging temporary worker programs based on the EU’s free movement policy.

These changes were not inevitable with Brexit. They represent the UK government distancing itself from the principles behind the EU policies – and in a way that could even prove unpopular.

Full policy paper from last week: The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement

And blog post from the Home Office: Points-based immigration system: Latest Information

The UK had been proposing this for a while. It was part of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill read in 2019. And the Conservative Party proposed it again in the fall.

For artists traveling to play in the UK (including both musicians and DJs), the visa now required for EU citizens – as well as everyone else – is this:

Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange visa (Tier 5)

The application cost is £244 – nowhere near as steep as countries like the United States of America, but a significant additional cost. (Musicians of course often play for less than that application fee.)

The visa response time the UK says “should be” within 3 weeks, with the ability to apply as early as 3 months prior to the gig. Expedited service fee is a whopping £500.

A certificate of sponsorship is required, with approved government agencies and programs. The program list is very specific, though; I’m asking UK partners if they can make more sense of this requirement.

Sponsors can approve multiple entry in that letter. This means that a smart strategy for artists playing in the UK may be to try to get a multiple entry visa so the fee is easier to swallow, since the visa lasts over a year.

The sponsorship letter is also an opportunity for artists to skirt an additional, potentially disqualifying requirement – £945 in savings which needs to be in your bank account 90 days before entering the country. A sponsoring organization can take on that requirement for artists.

Foreign artists also need to pay a healthcare surcharge. (Other countries I’ve dealt with allow private travel health insurance; this way you instead pay into the UK public health system.)

There is also a “Global Talent” visa, which replaces the existing Tier 1 “Exceptional Talent” visa. It’s more expensive, however, and has more stringent requirements.

Why it could hurt

I can make this really simple. I’ve never met anyone in music curation or arts – not one person – who wanted more restrictive borders for our field. Maybe this is a debate in other industries, but it seems universally within music that people want open borders. One question I have then is why our industry hasn’t been more effective working with government to lift restrictions on the arts.

It seems that changes in the UK would likely not only impact legal work mobility, but also would tighten enforcement of existing rules for everyone else. The existence of this requirement means it’s more likely border officers will ask tough questions and look for potential violations. It’s also extremely likely that European countries will retaliate with similar requirements for UK artists in Europe. That could have a chilling effect on the entire music market.

Free movement benefits music in three ways. First, it’s bi-directional – so more freedom means more international artists to compete with, but also more opportunities abroad. Second, the exchange of artists has the ability to increase the value of events – a dynamic scene means dynamic audiences, which can benefit everyone. Third, and most intangibly, exchange drives musical inspiration and transformation. Music is a form of communication that takes input.

I don’t know that artists should write off the UK because of changes to the visa. I think it’s a safe assumption that given Conservative Party control of the government, this long-sought-after legislation will pass – and it may be necessary for those of us working as artists and curators and in cultural diplomacy to adapt. I think it’ll increase the urgency for UK organizations and governments who do advocate for international exchange, too.

But adding visas where they didn’t exist before will certainly discourage artistic exchange with the UK, particularly for more casual DJ gigs and underground events.

Worse for the UK, the savings requirement could impact the diversity of artists traveling to the country.

The bigger picture

As immigration becomes a hot button issue worldwide, it’s long past time for the music community to get louder about immigration advocacy. Musical innovation and cultural wealth have always benefited from exchange and export, whether in preserving old traditions or creating new ones.

The reason I say it’s possible to overstate the UK policy is, it’s largely Europeans who have become accustomed to a unique level of international integration. Someone with a Russian or US passport entering the UK, for example, has a different experience.

It’s also clear that worldwide, the most popular visa for working artists is the “oh I hope people don’t ask what I’m really doing here” visa. In countries with tight borders – the US and Canada being prime examples – bending the rules can result in artists receiving long-term deportations, just because of fairly innocent activities like playing a DJ gig – hardly the sort of thing that wrecks a nation’s economy or steals someone else’s job. It’s more likely that gig will support the jobs of people working in nightlife than it is they would take them away.

So if it’s an economic win to encourage travel, what would a more progressive artist visa look like? That’s not hard to imagine – it’s the way tourist visas work in most countries now. And it’s the same reason countries looking to boost their economy often waive even the usual tourist visa requirements. That’s happening even in countries known for having tougher borders. The Russian Federation recently introduced a generous e-visa program, for example. (The UK and USA were notably not included – arguably an example of what escalating restrictions can do as countries reciprocate rules.) We need containment for the COVID-19 virus for it to be useful again, but China also has 72-hour visa free transit for people extending layovers into small holidays. And that’s just to give a couple of examples of countries seldom mentioned for their openness to immigrants or light paperwork requirements.

So why not consider that maybe musical activities are comparable to tourism in their benefit? (Hey, I’d even say they’re lower-impact and more net positive in communities than tourists are.)

Before people become overly depressive about the UK, keep in mind – this visa still looks within reach for may artists, and it’s right now only in a policy document statement, not finished and passed legislation. Given the transition period for Brexit is likely to involve a lot of debate, it’s an opportunity to have already seen this policy in proposals for the last couple of years, and as the stated Home Office position in just the second month of the transition. There are no surprises here, and even the opportunity for UK citizens to lobby for having the requirements relaxed.

Also, at least the UK isn’t the USA, whose artist visa process is so complex and expensive I can’t even wrap my head around it enough to explain.

Europe is generally an edge case – for its citizens, at least, it offers a vision of a more open world. The UK will be the first country to have that kind of privilege and then let it go, which may prove instructive.

But for the rest of the world, artist policy could be an opportunity to talk about immigration in an understandable way – and perhaps to win more open policies, even if the political winds seem headed the other direction. So with all of this in mind, there’s a chance the UK handed the international artistic community a gift – dependent entirely on our next moves.

Other reporting:

Proposed Brexit UK immigration policy will have ‘devastating impact,’ music industry warns [Resident Advisor – and that’s December 2018]

UK government confirms touring EU artists will need visas starting next year [RA]

Non-EU artists will need visas to perform in the UK from 2021 [Dummy]

EU DJs and musicians will need a visa to perform in the UK from 2021 [Mixmag]

Brexit: The impact on dance music so far [Mixmag in 2017, and that was pre-Article 50]

Resident Advisor partners with Spotify to launch RA Tickets integration

Image credit:


“LONDON HEATHROW” by Parto Domani is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The post UK’s 2021 work visa for European DJs, musicians poses challenge to cultural exchange appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Sightless Pit: Grave of a Dog review – witchy trio unleash hell

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 21 Feb 2020 11:00 am

(Thrill Jockey)
The underground supergroup bin their guitars in favour of obscure sound-making – and conjure a gloriously hellish mood

‘When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning or in rain?” That’s what you can imagine this decidedly witchy trio saying to each other after finishing this study in brutality. They are an underground supergroup of Kristin Hayter (AKA doom-laden torch singer Lingua Ignota), Lee Buford (drummer from the utterly brilliant outsider metal duo the Body) and Dylan Walker (vocalist from the equally brilliant grindcore band Full of Hell).

The trio subvert expectations by doing away with guitars and live drums altogether, instead using drum machines, samples and more obscure means to scorch the earth. As ever, Hayter sound like she’s delivering a benediction in a church on fire, and she’s trying nobly to withstand the flames. When the group’s productions pare back to quivering ambient drift and pulsations from far below, on Violent Rain and Love Is Dead, All Love Is Dead, she seems to regard the wreckage around her sadly. Walker, meanwhile, is the sound of the violence that got us here, his unhinged howl often fed through a mesh of static.

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The Orielles: the hotly tipped band leaving Halifax for the stars

Delivered... Fergal Kinney | Scene | Fri 21 Feb 2020 9:00 am

Energised by gong baths and Korean dance music, the northern band are topping playlists with their cosmic psychedelia

Twenty minutes into the gong bath, Orielles vocalist and bassist Esmé Hand-Halford knew that she was ready to do her vocal take. Stockport’s Eve Studios – a shrine containing BBC Radiophonic Workshop memorabilia, original rugs from the 1951 Festival of Britain and Europe’s largest collection of vintage BBC equipment – became, she says, “like a commune” as the mellow, relaxing drone reverberated through the room.

The Orielles are a Halifax trio aged between 21 and 24: Esmé; her sister, Sidonie, on drums; and guitarist Henry Carlyle-Wade. They get heavy rotation on 6Music and are as in demand for their cosmic remixes for other bands as they are for their high-energy festival sets. Their penchant for a notably retro vision of the future means they are the latest exponents of the kind of woozy psychedelia played by Broadcast and Stereolab – bands who remembered the future as if it were yesterday.

Disco Volador is out on 28 February. The band are at Riverside Newcastle on 25 February, then touring until 6 March. They play the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival on 7 March at the Roundhouse, London

Disco Volador is the band’s second album, not their debut. This was corrected on 21 February 2020.

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‘It feels like an extra limb’ – musicians on the bond with their instruments

Delivered... Michael Hann | Scene | Thu 20 Feb 2020 5:00 pm

Horrible things happen to instruments in transit – as Ballaké Sissoko and others have recently learned. Five musicians explain why the damage goes more than skin deep

One thing successful musicians have to do a lot of is travel, and when you travel with an instrument, you increase its chances of getting damaged. Early this month, the Malian musician Ballaké Sissoko’s kora was taken apart by US border agents when he left New York, something Sissoko only discovered when he picked it up in Paris. A few days later, Louis Levitt discovered a four-inch crack in his $100,000 double bass after it had been unpacked for security screening at Newark airport, and a few days after that, specialist instrument movers dropped Angela Hewitt’s £150,000 F278 Fazioli piano while removing it from a studio after a recording session, rendering it “unsalvageable”.

The loss of an instrument, though, is about more than inconvenience or financial cost. It’s about the loss of something that can feel like an integral part of a musician’s being – it’s their means of self-expression. And after years of playing one instrument, simply swapping to another isn’t as easy as it sounds – musicians and their instruments have relationships and losing one can be as hard as losing a lover. Here, five musicians talk about the instruments they play, and what those instruments mean to them.

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Grimes: Miss Anthropocene review – a toxicity report on modern celebrity

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Thu 20 Feb 2020 1:00 pm

Notionally a concept album about the goddess of climate crisis, the Canadian’s fifth album is actually a compellingly chaotic statement about her own private life

Miss Anthropocene has had a lengthy, difficult birth. As perhaps befits an album that was announced in 2017, then derailed by ferocious-sounding spats between artist and record company, rerecording, and rejigging of the track listing, it comes with a weighty concept attached. Miss Anthropocene is, Grimes says, a work based around the idea of anthropomorphising climate change into the figure of a villainous goddess (“she’s naked all the time and she’s made out of ivory and oil”) whose name is a conflation of “misanthrope” and the proposed scientific term for the current geological epoch, and who celebrates the imminent destruction of the world.

'This is the sound of the end of the world,' she sings over a haze of noisy, shoegazey guitar

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Pop star, producer or pariah? The conflicted brilliance of Grimes

Delivered... Laura Snapes | Scene | Wed 19 Feb 2020 3:43 pm

Claire Boucher has spent a decade battling the press to reclaim her reputation. Dating Elon Musk means she’s never been more controversial – but could her new album set her free?

Grimes has always had a tortured relationship with visibility. No sooner had Claire Boucher broken beyond the Montreal warehouse scene at the turn of the 2010s than she was telling journalists that she only fronted her music because she couldn’t afford to hire someone to do it for her. She wanted to be Phil Spector – though maybe she also wanted to be Britney. “I really hate being in front of people,” she told Pitchfork in 2012. “But I’m also obsessed with being a pop star.”

That ambivalence colours Boucher’s earliest press. She could make “dumb fucking hits all day” but didn’t, because “that’s obviously not how I want Grimes to be perceived”. She once asked: “What’s the difference between Napoleon and everyone else? Napoleon had great image branding.” Given that her style and hair colour changed in every photo, Boucher disrupted the possibility of ever solidifying into the kind of stable pop silhouette connoted by either bicorne hat or cone bra. She craved a new archetype: whether she resembled a space lieutenant or racoon-eyed wraith, the one consistent would be her iconoclastic skill as the sole producer of her music.

Grimes was deified like a pop star, and there was a triumph-of-the-weird will to see her become one

Against all odds, Miss Anthropocene is Boucher’s continuing personal testament to creativity as resistance against destruction

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Andrew Weatherall obituary

Delivered... Adam Sweeting | Scene | Tue 18 Feb 2020 2:54 pm

DJ and record producer whose work on Primal Scream’s 1991 album Screamadelica helped it win the first Mercury prize

The list of Andrew Weatherall’s achievements as DJ, musician, songwriter, producer and remixer could fill a hefty volume. His career took him from working as an acid house DJ in the late 1980s to being a celebrated remixer of tracks by Happy Mondays, New Order and Primal Scream. His production work on Primal Scream’s album Screamadelica (1991), creating a revolutionary mix of indie, hard rock, house and rave, helped the record to win the inaugural Mercury music prize the following year, and remains Weatherall’s most memorable calling card to a mainstream audience.

Then he moved on to an assortment of collaborative projects such as Blood Sugar, Two Lone Swordsmen and the Asphodells. More recently he had released a sequence of solo albums including Convenanza, Consolamentum (both 2016) and Qualia (2017).

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Andrew Weatherall: 10 of his greatest tracks

Delivered... Gabriel Szatan | Scene | Tue 18 Feb 2020 2:30 pm

From My Bloody Valentine to Saint Etienne and Ricardo Villalobos, Andrew Weatherall sprinkled magic throughout his career

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Pi’erre Bourne review – rapper-producer with an eye on Kanye’s crown

Delivered... Daniel Dylan Wray | Scene | Tue 18 Feb 2020 1:30 pm

Yes, Manchester
Known for beats for 21 Savage, Young Thug and Chance the Rapper, the South Carolinian producer dances gracefully through genres in his live show

‘When I say, ‘Yo Pi’erre’, you say, ‘You wanna come out here?’” instructs Pi’erre Bourne to an obliging audience as he steps on stage. The line – a dialogue sample from The Jamie Foxx Show – has become the rapper and producer’s tagline since it featured on Playboi Carti’s Magnolia, a monster hit propelled by Bourne’s game-changing earworm of a beat.

The South Carolinian’s board skills have rocketed him upwards, and he is now one of the most sought-after producers in hip-hop, working with Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Young Thug, Chance the Rapper and even his hero Kanye West. It was West’s dual role as producer and rapper that Bourne once looked to shadow, saying: “I could really be the next Kanye type of star.” In 2019, he released his major label debut, The Life of Pi’erre 4, a T-Pain-esque overload of Auto-Tune crooning above deft production skills.

Touring until 19 February.

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Bionic synthesis: artists make music with a prosthetic arm, eye motion

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Mon 17 Feb 2020 6:47 pm

Accessibility in music can mean expanding expression beyond what is normally physically possible. For one artist, that means jacking a prosthesis as CV – for another, overcoming paralysis to make music with eyes alone.

Bertolt Meyer was already producing and DJing, even with a birth condition that left him without the lower portion of one arm. But he hacked his arm prosthesis to jack control voltage straight into his modular – connecting to synthesis more directly than most before would even imagine.

In the case of Pone, a seminal French hip-hop producer, the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) left the artist without muscle control of his body. Using an eye interface, he has managed to publish a book on the disease.

But he has also turned to music production, connecting open, hackable eye tracking solutions to Ableton Live. The eyes act as a (very slow) mouse – in this case, the screen-and-pointer GUI paradigm of the software is an aid to accessibility. Inspired by Kate Bush, he has made an instrumental album called Kate & Me entirely using his eyes.

And … wow – it’s everything you’d expect from a hip-hop innovator like Pone, astonishing as you think of the effort that went into production. It’s a testament to the power of musical imagination, and the potential of that imagination to connect in any way it can with the outside world.

The album is a free download from the album site:

Check the release party:

The Guardian has an extensive article on his story. There’s some sobering information, too – like the lack of French insurance support for the condition.

Pone: the paralysed producer making music with his eyes [The Guardian]

There’s not nearly enough attention paid to accessibility in the music tech industry. It’s not some novel edge case – it hits right at the core of what music technology for expression is fundamentally about. (And even accessibility defined in narrow terms is bigger than you think – so for instance 1 in 20 KOMPLETE KONTROL users take advantage of features for the visually impaired.)

I wrote about this in a blog story for Native Instruments, which deals with their products but also a lot about the process for developing these features – it’s relevant to anyone reading here who makes music products. (And even though this deals with vision accessibility, there are lessons relevant to other matters, too.)

Designing for the visually impaired

It’s also worth reading Ashley Elsdon’s writing on the topic, like this story for us:

The post Bionic synthesis: artists make music with a prosthetic arm, eye motion appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Andrew Weatherall: lone swordsman who cut new shapes for British music

Delivered... Alexis Petridis | Scene | Mon 17 Feb 2020 6:37 pm

From producing dub symphonies, or DJing ferocious techno, to never losing his insatiable musical curiosity, Weatherall was a truly inspirational figure

There was a point, quite early on in Andrew Weatherall’s career, when vast commercial success appeared to beckon him. Already an acclaimed DJ and remixer, his production work on Primal Scream’s 1991 album Screamadelica had helped turn a middling indie act whose career had given every appearance of being in its terminal phase, into an award-winning, multi-million selling band suddenly at the cutting edge, the epitome of the fruitful interface between rock music and the post-acid house dance scene.

Related: Andrew Weatherall, British producer behind Screamadelica, dies aged 56

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Moses Boyd: Dark Matter review – party-facing solo debut

Delivered... Kitty Empire | Scene | Sun 16 Feb 2020 10:00 am

Moses Boyd is a drummer in the same way Questlove from the Roots is a drummer, which is to say that the twice Mobo-winning 28-year-old Londoner is a producer-composer-collaborator-influencer not bound by the kit surrounding him. A progenitor of the current London jazz scene, Boyd’s official solo debut goes large on cross-pollination – and dancing.

Whereas Boyd’s previous Mobo-winning duo with the saxophonist Binker Golding and his Exodus ensemble remained more or less on-genre, Dark Matter exists very much in the wake of Boyd’s breakout track of 2016, Rye Lane Shuffle (which featured Four Tet and Floating Points on mixes). This is the London hybrid jazz of now – a party-facing electronic record that takes note of Afrobeats, two-step garage and Boyd’s travels in South Africa.

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Moses Boyd: Dark Matter review – party-facing solo debut

Delivered... Kitty Empire | Scene | Sun 16 Feb 2020 10:00 am

Moses Boyd is a drummer in the same way Questlove from the Roots is a drummer, which is to say that the twice Mobo-winning 28-year-old Londoner is a producer-composer-collaborator-influencer not bound by the kit surrounding him. A progenitor of the current London jazz scene, Boyd’s official solo debut goes large on cross-pollination – and dancing.

Whereas Boyd’s previous Mobo-winning duo with the saxophonist Binker Golding and his Exodus ensemble remained more or less on-genre, Dark Matter exists very much in the wake of Boyd’s breakout track of 2016, Rye Lane Shuffle (which featured Four Tet and Floating Points on mixes). This is the London hybrid jazz of now – a party-facing electronic record that takes note of Afrobeats, two-step garage and Boyd’s travels in South Africa.

Continue reading...

Katie Gately: Loom review – nightmarish orchestrated despair

Delivered... Ben Beaumont-Thomas | Scene | Fri 14 Feb 2020 10:30 am

Earthquakes, shovels and screaming peacocks are all sampled in a bombastic and occasionally ingenious album

A nail-bomb of grief explodes in this second album by US musician Katie Gately, trauma seeming to rip open its edges. It was written while her mother was dying from a rare form of cancer; the title suggests this horror looming into her life, but also somewhere she can thread it together and tie it down.

Related: Katie Gately: ‘I’m a pretty diehard Billy Joel fan’

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DJ Diaki: Balani Fou review | Ammar Kalia’s global album of the month

Delivered... Ammar Kalia | Scene | Fri 14 Feb 2020 9:30 am

(Nyege Nyege Tapes)
DJ Diaki’s debut is a speeding cascade of sound that skilfully re-creates the pounding atmosphere of Malian street party Balani Show

Recent years have seen some of the most exciting dancefloor-focused music moving further and further away from its spiritual homes of Detroit, Chicago, Berlin or London. Now, styles such as South African gqom or Angolan kuduro-techno are pushing their way into club sound systems with rattling tempos in excess of 200bpm and unpredictable polyrhythms replacing the familiar four-to-the-floor kick.

The work released by Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes is among the most inventive of these styles. Encompassing sounds from the ground-shaking rhythms of Tanzanian singeli to the electro-synths of Ugandan acholi, the label has been challenging a recent trend towards often purposefully punishing “deconstructed” club music with their joyous reimaginings of east African music. Their latest release by Malian DJ Diaki is no less formidable. A stalwart of the Balani Show sound system – a party setup playing electronic, layered versions of the marimba-style instrument balafon – Diaki now releases his debut on Nyege Nyege.

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