A genre-defying Afrofuturist manifesto from Uganda. Producer, dancer and choreographer Faizal Mostrixx's singular vision of East African electronic music is a lush sonic tapestry of polyrhythms, modern dancefloor styles, amapiano, Nile basin ceremonial chants and Pan-African field recordings.
A stalwart of the explosive Kampala electronic music scene Mostrixx has collaborated with the Nyege Nyege collective appearing at both the African and European editions of their festival.
From a Western perspective, Afrofuturism is having a moment ― but that's what it is, a Western perspective that grants a certain neat status to what it sees on the concert stages of its own continents. Afrofuturism has always been there, driven by the encounter between traditional roots sounds and the possibilities afforded by each new generation of technology. A style, yes, but more than that an imperative, a state of mind, perhaps even a state of emergency.
The title of the record, Faizal Mostrixx's first full-length release for Glitterbeat, is a good place to start, as it was with his debut release for the label, last year's Transitions EP: the state of becoming, of 'being between' that is key to the Afrofuturist project. There's always convergence too, which in his case is between music and the performing arts. He is first and foremost a dancer, but one who has found time to absorb a full range of global electronic music styles along the way, after a solid grounding in older sounds. Early on his mother would take him to practice stations, which featured groups of mostly female traditional dancers accompanied by live percussion, singing and dancing, while his father was a truck driver who would bring home CDs and cassettes of traditional and pop music, mostly from Kenya and Congo. As Mostrixx puts it, 'I started with dancing before making music. I experimented a lot with different styles for performances. Hip-hop, urban styles, dubstep, techno. Later I started producing my own stuff.'
Musically, his expression builds first on a Ugandan heritage, particularly its varied rhythmic patterns and the specific style of music played at the kadodi, an ancient circumcision ceremony that Mostrixx describes as being 'about a tribe creating this energy of bravery to get into a trance.' These antique local rhythm patterns are balanced with influences from further afield: downtempo, deep and Afro House elements melded with sub-heavy dub, footwork and amapiano, East and South African polyrhythms, modern urban styles, and age-old chants from the Nile Basin. Horizons are further expanded with field recordings from Uganda, Congo, Ethiopia and Tanzania, some by Mostrixx and others, from the 1950s, taken from the International Library of African Music.