What to Expect in 2016? [MEGA POST]

2016Gate

Leaving 2015 behind it is time to do make some first predictions about what we can expect in the coming year. Last year we saw the massive breakhroughs of some people both under and outside the radar of Generation Bass, such as Nidia Minaj, Kamixlo, ANGEL-HO and Santa Muerte. All artists who demonstrate how the underground club scene has become the new centre of gravity for music and how the rebirth of culture from the perspectives and identities of people neglected by the dominant narratives in Western culture, has become the most essential themes. In 2016 these trends will certainly continue and will mutate into new directions. Which ones are not clear to tell yet, but there are some questions that may hint at the possible futures that may give some clues.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR THE LIST OF ARTISTS WHOM I THINK WILL MOST PROBABLY BREAK THROUGH INTO THE SPOTLIGHTS THIS YEAR!)

What will happen to the club trax underground community once its own sucess definitively throws it into the (semi-)mainstream, with its dilemmas around commerce, ethics and ego’s?

We’ve seen this with many other movements once they become popular. Almost certainly will there be copycats at some point who try to benefit from the success formula, with as little dedication as possible. How will this stuff be marketed to larger audiences, and which audiences exactly? What will this do with the high ethical standards concerning race, class and gender which have been unquestionably respected in this scene so far. All these questions we’ve been confronted with before in our history, as the global bass underground was undergoing a similar phase, splitting off into Mad Decent and its following on the one side and.. well.. some small, non-commercial snippets of underground who survived on the other side, including ourselves.

What will happen to the ‘dark turn’ in genres like trap, dancehall or even more importantly, in the club avant-garde?

More importantly, will it really ‘merge’ with the innovations in dark music like crossbreed, rhythmic noise or abrasive ritual ambient techno? Until now there’s only a negligible fraction of the two sides scene really ‘coming together’, either in online groups or with IRL events (I’ll be playing a set of dark industrial flavoured trap & global bass and avant-garde club at a kinky dungeon night this month, magnet for the post-goth alternative scene, and I’m really curious how it will be received!)

https://soundcloud.com/v0lkanos/untitled-ii-volkanos-vs-crpt

A collab from three absolutely essential names from the new dark generation you need to check out: Volkanos (USA), |CRPT| (Poland) & TRNAH (Poland) !

Even genres as close sound-wise as witchhouse, trillwave, dark trap and dark/agressive subgenres of hiphop share little fanbase or producer-base. Now the boundaries between original genres and subcultures have effectively eroded, what WILL be the new lines dividing scenes and cultural expressions in the coming year? That immediately leads to the next question..

How will the culture-wars develop this year and what will that mean for music?

If one thing is clear from last year, the culture wars have just started yet. Online underground scenes, in almost any field like gaming, tech or fashion blogging, have now been acquainted with the critical call for more diversity and inclusiveness for people of colour, women and LGBTQ people and have witnessed the unfolding of a ever more heated debate between cultural critics, mocked as ‘Social Justice Warriors’, and their opponents, ‘Free Speech Bigots’, who want to maintain their privileged status-quo with an appeal to free expression. This debate has started to surface ever more into mainstream politics, and with the unstoppable impact of the internet and online underground cultures, I expect this to sore to full-blown heights this year. My expectations are bleak. What will happen if the mainstream political spectrum definitively diverges into Tumblr’s mercilessly militant cultural Marxism and 4Chan’s evil anarcho-nihilist glorification of everything we know to be evil, including racism, sexism and LGTBQ-phobia as the ultimate mark of true rebellion. How will this affect avant-garde music, an alternative cultural area in which sharing revolutionary political ideas is bread and butter? The dark-industrial sound and aesthetic is one that can readily be adopted by either camp and in fact already has been.

EDM is dead, but why does psychedelic rave culture still seem to be boiling in the underground in many places of the world, waiting to have its moment?

Something less bleak but still relevant. Since about 2014, I have witnessed the popularity of deephouse in the US and techno in Europe as a clear response to the loud ‘bass-drop-gasm’ formula of festival EDM. Especially in the case of techno, it was the air of exclusiveness and status-boosting elitism that fueled the magic. Once it reached a critical mass, it really took off in the course of several months, with copycat-techno raves mushrooming everywhere. And with the growing mainstream attention for a concept like Burning Man in 2014, I would have bet a fortune on my prediction of a sudden explosion of a Burning Man-inspired crossover mainstream movement in which techno-hipsters could readily take a ‘next step’ into psychedelics, neo-hippie culture, transhuman-futurist philosophy and a crossover of deep techno, psytrance and potentially supplemented with psychedelic bass music, electrofolklore or transhumanistically flavoured post-vaporwave. But, guess what, nothing of that did happen. On the contrary, Burning Man was loudly declared dead this year and an important initiative to denounce the festival and it’s culture as pseudo-open, culturally insensitive, privileged snobbery came precisely from the club underground. Burning Man may have lost its magic, but psychedelic rave culture still seems to be strong and growing in many new places like Brazil and Mexico. Could it still become a potential new centre of gravity for music to move towards?

Future bass producers like R23X blend elements together like ‘deep’, the ‘dub’, the ‘tech’, the ‘trill’, the ‘wave’, the ‘tresillo’, the ‘dream’, the ‘vapor’ and the ‘psychedelic’ into something from another dimension

What will happen to Middle Eastern electronic music?

Back in the days, every newly hyped genre was immediately incorporated into the broader movement of ‘tropical bass’ and that in turn into ‘festival EDM’. Now since there was no strong ‘centre of gravity’ any more in 2015, all the amazing Middle Eastern electronic music that we have pushed passionately this year with artists such as Deena Abdelwahed, 8ULENTINA, Dj Haram, Mutamassik, C Production and Streamer and genres like shamstep, arabtronix and desertwave, remained kind of on their own. Not that this heavy incorporation was always a good thing, not at all, it usually squeezed a genre into a prefabricated direction before the producers could even get the deserved recognition for what they had created. 8ULENTINA, Dj Haram and now also Deena are solidly part of the new club movement, but that doesn’t obviously go for all the Middle Eastern electronic music that we’re interested in at Generation Bass.

https://soundcloud.com/habibiboi/w-lil-ceaser

HABIBIBOI, an upcoming name in the club trax underground who is weaving Arabic elements into club music

Are there still any ignored underground scenes left, or have new ones emerged while we weren’t looking?

The question which new ‘centres of gravity’ will be of influence this coming year will not only influence Middle Eastern electronic genres but in fact any new genre or micro-movement that comes under the attention of the blogo- and Facebookgroup-sphere. But then the obvious question is, after half a decade of introducing new genres from all over the world: are there still any such underexposed  sounds left anywhere? Has the internet perhaps made the formation of new local undergrounds impossible?

I am cautious to use the word ‘discover’ for the obvious appropriator-colonialist attitude that comes with it and I definitely don’t approve of that. Yet I think that the way Generation Bass has been an integral factor in many scenes in the past locally and globally, especially in countries like Chile, Mexico and Brazil is very valuable. Could there still a future for Generation Bass in this role for new movements and genres? I think the answer is and should ‘yes’. I spoke to Munchi lately and he told me that the entire internet has been sleeping on very interesting things going on in Puerto Rico’s reggaeton underground that have already started to fade away due to the lack of interest. It’s a shame because this is what Generation Bass has been created for down to the essence. We’ll keep you updated!

What will the urban-eclectic scene do now EDM is dead?

We all know the histoy: music today would not be what it is without the urban eclectic scene in the Netherlands, which started with the Antillean bubbling movement, where DJs started remixing dance tracks, which grew into a vivid crossover scene of electronic music blended with Afro-Caribbean styles like dancehall and reggaeton as well as hiphop and R&B which is much broader than ‘Dutch house’, the main sound that it produced. The multi-culturally driven scene scene effortlessly incorporated new genres like kuduro, azonto, kizomba, went through a latinhouse period and is now all about the new wave of afrohouse, without any ‘help’ from the blogosphere at all. Lately though, sadly enough, the lure of the Major Lazer’s bro-ified formula, which has turned acts like Boaz van de Beatz and Shaun D into semi-superstars, has had a big influence. But that whole magic will quickly die out this year if it hasn’t already. But then, what will be the next centre of gravity for this unique scene?

Grime, once kind of an obscure hobby in the Netherlands for alternative hiphop and UK bass fans, is having its moment in Amsterdam right now. This may perhaps, in the long run, pull the broader Dutch scene towards the club trax movement… but that is still far away, even as the club underground is making its first entrance into the Netherlands right now (HERE & HERE!). A more likely guess is that the scene could first transform itself into a reinvented version of the ‘tropical’ movement. The paradox with todays internet culture is that something seemingly worn out online can still be fresh and new for other crowds. True, ‘música tropical’ is a traditional synonym for Afro-Caribbean music in many parts of Latin America and it will probably stay that way, but in Europe it used to be a gimmick umbrella concept to combine Afro-Latin styles and brand them to hipster crowds as an exotic curiosity. A couple of years ago, the concept had its moment of high expectations and then sank away into the abyss of things passing by also on Generation Bass. But right now it seems to be making a comeback and this time free from the EDM hype machine, being more the truly harmonious fusion of electronic sounds with Afro-Latin genres in the way the Dutch scene has already been since the beginning. Much of the sounds from the tropical movement like moombahton and zouk bass have firmly found their way into the Netherlands by now, turning it into something much more authentic and permanent. My guess is you’ll definitely hear more about this ‘tropical 2.0’ this year, especially if you’re in Europe and are following KUDDEDIEREN (if you weren’t yet, you should be now). More info will follow soon!

https://soundcloud.com/lesrowness/les-rowness-azucar-part-1

Les Rowness brings the contemporary sound of the urban-eclectic scene and shows how small the distance has become with what blog readers know as ‘global/tropical bass’

Where is the all the live electronic music actually?

Last spring, I was absolutely convinced that 2015 would be the year to say goodbye to not just the EDM industry but DJing as a whole. After all, producers making the tracks and DJ’s playing them on the dance floor is something that seemed to have reached its absolute dead-end with EDM’s superstar-DJs. I expected to see all kinds of different ways of electronic music, especially live bands. The underground club trax movement’s allergy against big entertainment the appreciation of producer-DJs as conceptual artists and storytellers rather than celebrities is certainly a counter-reaction. But the ‘back to the basics of club culture’ attitude still isn’t a true break away from the DJ-formula. Of course there are many new electronic bands pioneering right now but then I don’t have the feeling that they’re getting the amount of attention and recognition as I hoped they would. It may also be that it’s just ME not having my eyes open enough but I hope to see electronic bands get back to the centre of attention again in 2016. This is what I came across in the area of live electronica towards the end of last year and it’s making me very excited for the future!

Batobe and Pocket Knife Army, two upcoming bands from my own city, don’t sleep on them

Appeared earlier on the blog but I can’t repeat it enough, Bedtime Stories (alter ego of Shinji) is an extraordinary, completely independent musician with a style unlike anything else, blending the neo-dark classical touch of legends like Venetian snares with introspective gothic ambient wave into an intense, despairing yet angelic well of emotion.. all recorded and performed live

Featured earlier in the Afrofuturism Festival series where I witnessed her performances live, Camae Defstar a.k.a. Moor Mother Goddess is an artist whom I should have included in the list below because she is not only a magnificent live electronic artist and but also somebody who I think is on the brink of being lifted into the spotlights of the big forward looking music magazines, her recent interview in THE FADER is only the beginning

And.. finally, of course, which specific artists do we need to keep an eye on this year?

This was perhaps the hardest part of the post because I have my own focus and am not aware of everybody in the reach of Generation Bass who may nevertheless do big things this year. Even within my focus scenes combined, there are many more promising upcoming artists than could be included here. Also, there is a big difference between people whom I might personally HOPE to break through and whom I EXPECT that will do so. I tried my best to balance it out but couldn’t escape my disproportional focus on the club avant-garde. But don’t worry, the focus will broaden this year. The dark underground series will finally be launched, with extra attention for the comeback of witchhouse, and I’ll hopefully be able to keep you updated about the Dutch urban-eclectic and new tropical scene, pay massive attention to electronic bands and solo live acts in as many genres and scenes as possible and will also try to actively promote a future generation of psychedelic/transdimensional music.

Sounds like a lot huh? You’ll hear from us!

1. GAIKA (LONDON)

If there is one artist that I’m 100% sure will make it big from virtually out of nowhere in the same way as KAMIXLO, ANGEL-HO or Chino Amobi did last year is GAIKA, a multi-talented producer, vocalist, songwriter and visual artist from London. Not surprisingly he is also afiliated with the NON label, which will certainly stay one of the most influential labels in 2015. DAZED recently described his unique style as a blend of grime, dancehall, garage, hiphop and R&B with a gothic touch. What makes him particularly unique is that he is with one leg in the club avant-garde scene but at the same time delivers a live stage act that breaks with the DJ-producer formula and can appeal to a much broader audience in scenes like dancehall, grime and hiphop.

2. Florentino (MANCHESTER)

I don’t know what it is about the UK. It’s not just London but also other cities where the new club scene is flourishing and three steps ahead of almost everybody else. In Manchester the forward looking Swing Ting night, already one of Manchester’s best club nights back in 2014, is the big motor. The Colombian producer Florentino went from being a practically unknown bass producer to one of the most promising newcomers with the release of his Tu y Yo EP in October last year. His unique, subtle blend of reggaeton, Latin drums (surprisingly similar to what has been going on in the Dutch underground to my own ears), UK bass and club music became an instant hit in the club underground. Funnily, the EP came out just shortly after I wrote this pasionate post about all the great things that moombahton could potentially be but unfortunately isn’t, and would have been the most perfect illustration of what I meant with that post. As Florentino himself also said in a recent interview with FACT MAG, his lightfooted, romantically flavoured style is complementary to the cold industrialism of Kamixlo, both interpreting and expressing their own connection to Latin America’s most influential subculture (reggaeton) in the context of multi-cultural youth life in the UK today.

3. Lange Sjaak (ROTTERDAM)

Probably the most underrated producer of 2015. As the producer for many hit bangers from Dutch acts like Bollebof and Broederliefde (who are also massively underrated outside the Netherlands), most of the credits still go to the vocalists, the faces you see in the music vids and on stage. His productions draw heavily on tarraxo, kuduro and afrobeats and he is in frequent contact with producers from the Portuguese underground, which will hopefully bring more recognition for Portuguese producers in the Dutch scene and the other way around in 2016. Expect big things this year.

His newest production ‘Kwasten’ featuring Bollebof & Joyba, THE hit in the Netherlands right now

Promising future tarraxo demo 2016!

4. TOXE (STOCKHOLM)

The Swedish talent Toxe was with pain in my heart not included on my ‘Best of 2015‘ list, even though she, as well as other very promising Staycore 117 affiliated producers Mapalm, Mobilegirl and Mechatok are among the most impressive new talents right now. Right when I heard the ‘Muscle Memory EP‘ and the way in which she is able to transmit something intensely deep and meaningful with very mechanical ambient sounds. Everything, from the subtle polyrhythmic elements, crispy sounds, sample work and cryptic multi-layered titles, is in the right place and creates a unique and magical experience, at the same time incredibly conceptual and incredibly powerful on the dancefloor.

Her new release for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil label

Her banger ‘Half Life’ with Mechatok was one of the biggest avant-garde club anthems last year

5. DJ LyCox (PARIS)

Sometimes I have no explanations for why something does not happen the way I am almost convinced it must happen. The Paris based, Principe Discos signed genius DJ LyCox has been one of the most unique upcoming talents (and one of my permanently favourite producers) for more than a year. Exactly a year ago I would have sworn as confidently as now that he would be heading towards a massivbe worldwide breakthrough, joining the ranks of names like Dj Nigga Fox and Dj Marfox. But compared to other names from the Portuguese underground like Nidia Minaj, he remained completely underrated last year. So now I am saying, yes shouting out loud again that 2016 should and will be the year of Dj LyCox. If you’re still doubting, check out this recent, otherworldly forward looking track. The question is, why isn’t there a monumental, recognisable debut EP yet? If it were up to the productivity of the producer, uploading new music almost every week, he could have had an impressive discography on his name already.

https://soundcloud.com/dlycox/lycox-bercy

He was at the forefront of a whole new experiment in the Portuguese underground sound: Portuguese batucada/kuduro enriched with hammering distorted 808 bass ..and almost nobody noticed..

6. Gil (ZÜRICH)

Promising new talent GIL from Switzerland was lifted into the spotlights with an incredible release on THUMP half a year ago and has further released via Staycore 117 that same summer. In the meantime he has only released two tracks, nevertheless magnificent, and the last one is three months back already. Like for Dj LyCox, Gil’s unique, energetic blend of dembow, dancehall, baile funk, mechanical sounds and sample work just cries for an EP in the same way as we have seen for most of the other newcomers. If it isn’t in the making already to be announced by surprise, Gil, if you’re reading, we at Generation Bass are excited to release an EP from your hand at any time! (More soon about the Swiss underground scene too…)

7. Missdewimusic (EINDHOVEN)

Formerly known as Dj Miss Devana, is probably the most underrated producer of everybody in this list. She hasn’t yet been lifted into the big spotlights by any of the major platforms, nor in the Netherlands, even though she is making incredibly unique stuff for more than a year now. People from the moombahton scene and the wider global bass folks like the KUMBALE label have definitely shown love for a while now and that is a great start but (and that surprises me actually) she is still virtually unknown in the underground club scene. I’m really looking forward to see her get the recognition she’d deserve by platforms like the Staycore 117 fam or the Classical Trax community, as well as by the Dutch urban-eclectic scene. Preferably at the same time. The passionate dedication, unique style and talent is definitely there!

8. JKZ/$KA (SÃO PAULO)

We may know newcomer JKZ, formerly know as Rain Jx or JAKZ, from our massive DoomBahTon compilation and from the Favela Trap House EP but he isn’t even a fraction as known as he should be. Expect a post soon about him and the underground scene around him: a collective of friends who are into experimental music, dark sinister stuff and just doing things differently in a way that creates something unique. JKZ is his producer project, focused on energetic dark trap with a touch of vapor/trillwave and baile funk. Shortly ago, he launched a second project as a rapper rapping over self produced beats: $KA. Where JKZ is about dark energetic bangers, $KA pushes a mystical, smokey ambient chill sound where again, traces of baile funk come back in a way never done before. Much like GAIKA, he creates a format where the producer and the MC blend into a live act formula with the potential to appeal to push the music into whole new directions.

https://soundcloud.com/skacush/puff-puff-pass-prod-ska

Cloud-rap meets funk in $KA’s freshest tune ‘Puff Puff Pass’

9. Godwonder (AMSTERDAM)

When I got into contact with Munchi a couple of months ago he told me, prepare for the secret EP of Godwonder, carefully prepared and crafted under his direction, dedicated entirely to making music that bridges the gap between the contemporary street sounds of the Dominican Republic and of Amsterdam. 2016, without any doubt, will be the year of Godwonder and not just because Munchi has attached his name to it. With this new EP, out within a couple of days, Godwonder shows that he has found his direction and sound and is ready to leave his lasting mark on the development of music for the coming years.

10. Thomás Urquieta (VIÑA DEL MAR)

Closing with yet another producer from the club underground whom I’m both very enthusiastic about and also convinced he will definitely break through this year. Interestingly although well appreciated in the club trax scene, he is not affiliated to any of its major labels but recently released a magnificent debut EP (‘Manuscript EP‘) on the forward looking label Infinite Machine, which is certainly ‘avant-garde’ in attitude but definitely not limited to club music, also releasing a lot of great experimental techno and house flavoured music. It is precisely this open connection, beyond the immediate borders of the new club scene, that make Thomás Urquieta’s music a powerful example to imagine music in a near future when the current fresh club trax sound has transformed and durably influenced everything.

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The Art of Afrofuturism

AiRich 1

The first three posts (1, 2 ,3) mainly focused on the musical, cinematic and literary side of the afrofuturist movement. Now a special post dedicated to afrofuturism in visual art, spotlighting the artists that featured on the festival: Charl Landvreugd, AiRich, Bryan Green, Boris van Berkum and JoAnn McNeil!

Visual art, perhaps more than any other artform, is a vessel to communicate imagination. Since afrofuturism, in its core, is about imagination, about the envisioning of many different futures stemming from cultural heritage and life experiences, it becomes apparent that art is an important pillar of the movement, which at the same refuses to be boxed into one straightforward formula or genre. This stunning gallery, compiled by the influential culture and lifestyle platform Blavity, testifies of this, showcasing art varying between miniature collages, sci-fi comic style scenery, mysticist surrealism and psychedelic, art nouveau flavoured mural painting.

My first acquantance with the visual art component on the festival was during the Friday workshop with Nyfolt. The workshop took place in WORM’s unique, historical analog synthesiser studio, where we as participants were allowed to play around to freely experiment with the several synths or make free-expression drawings. JoAnn showed some paintings and explained how, in her work, imagination, emotion, painting and sound are mutually reinforcing sources of inspiration. Her art, which we will see below, is a colourful, energetic form of abstract expressionism which questions the world, perception, taken-for-granted identities and experiences of the Self.

The notion of perspectives and perception is a central element that came back in the work of all featured artists in different ways..

1. Charl Landvreugd

The acclaimed Surinamese Dutch multi-talented artist and art historian Charl Landvreugd was the most prominently featured artist at the festival. His multimedia installation, situated in the venue’s concrete club hall, was on display the entire week and in between the day workshops and the night programme, people walk in and at a set time each day, the artist himself gave a presentation about the meaning and story behind the work.

The installation consisted of three walls, divided into five areas to which short fragments of moving imagery was projected. The fragments – a drivethrough through the Gotthard tunnel,  a street in Amsterdam, an excavatoin site in Suriname – all showed aspects of spatially distant memories and connections that are common to the experience of people from the African diaspora in Europe, afro-caribbeans as well as several generations of African immigrants, many of whom have lived in different countries and have family all over the world. From this starting point he also hinted to an extension of afrofuturism into a diverse, multi-perspective futurism in which these multiple delocalised social and family relationships will increadingly be part of everyone’s reality.

The original idea was that this space would be most profoundly experienced in a true clubbing setting, with a DJ guiding the multi-sensory experience of the meaning of dislocated connections, but unfortunately, this was not allowed for formal reasons so instead, a minimal, hypnotising trap beat, produced by Landvreugd himself, sampling afro-Caribbean non-verbal sound-language, looped trough the speakers.

CharlLandvreugdInstallation

An impression of Landvreugd’s installation: art in a minimalistic club setting

LandvreugdSpectators

 Spectators walking through the space

The video’s were drawn from several earlier works, built up over the years of research and art projects in the area of african and afro diasporic experience and aesthetics, such as his project dedicated to the late Surinamese writer and cultural critic Edgar Cairo about the legacy of slavery traumas, expressed in the form of poetic stories.

Video art combined with traditional call & response storytelling for the projec with Edgar Cairo last year

LandvreugdMask

A future-noir styled photoshoot on the night streets of Rotterdam featuring Landvreugd himself, wearing one of the Transformers masks that appear as a leitmotiv in many of his works, legacy of his youth when he was involved in a breakdance crew called the ‘Transformerz’

2. Boris van Berkum

The Dutch artist Boris van Berkum is another versatile name with a longstanding carreer and experience in different areas of the art spectrum but mainly focusing on sculpture and drawing. His psychedelic style is strongly influenced by traditional cultures, aesthetics and techniques from different parts of the world including Africa and the Caribbean.

A turning point in his artistic carrier took place when he was renting an event location, which was once used by people from the Afro Surinamese community for a traditional Winti ceremony. In an interview (in Dutch), he tells how winti Priestess and community leader Marian Markelo was guided by her ancestors to find somebody to restore the use of traditional, pre-slavery African masks in Winti practice, and was lead to sculptor Boris. Their joint initiative led to a brilliantly afrofuturistic project in which traditional masks from the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam were 3D scanned and, on the basis of this digital information, recreated for practice. This project became an important factor in the protest against plans from the museum to sell the entire Africa collection, going by the slogan “I am not for sale,” referring to the slavery history and the continuing colonialist commodification of the cultural heritage of living people in the city of Rotterdam.

“I am not for sale”: digital 3D scanning technology brings west-African ceremonial objects back to life

Van Berkum’s replicas are curated by the museum but available for use at events and ceremonies. The giant bust of the snake god Papa Winti was displayed at Afrofuturism Now! alternately in the upper entrance hall by day and behind the DJ booth at night.

PapaWintiCloseUp

Close up of Van Berkum’s Papa Winti bust

PhilouLouzoloBorisvBerkum

Papa Winti on display during the friday night party, featuring oldschool afrobeats & disco dj Philou Louzolo

https://soundcloud.com/urbanessence/ue31-philou-louzolo-presents-afrigalactic

Fresh mix from Philou Louzolo that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the Friday party

3. AiRich

Saturday afternoon, the Wunderbar foyer was decorated by an artist who is one of the most promising upcoming tastemakers in visual art and fashion in the Netherlands, with tons potential internationally as well. I’m talking about the a young, Amsterdam based Surinamese-Dutch photographer, fashion stylist and multimedia artist AiRich. Her photography and short videos excel in creating a rich universe of new realities in a very minimalistic way, without the use of extensive sceneries or attributes but with a powerful combination of bright, often pastel flavoured colors and expressive clothing. By the exclusive use of black models she counteracts the dominant Western ideas of beauty.

#PHOTOBOOTH is a new project of hers, launched last year, born out of dissatisfaction with conventional event photography. Psychedelic afrofuturist backgrounds and atributes transport visitors into the universe ‘Made By AiRich’. Next to and after the day workshop ‘drawing your inner mind-space’ by Ras Mashramani, the festival’s visitors were restyled and captured in the booth.

AiRichRasheedaMoorMotherGoddess

Moor Mother Goddess & Rasheeda

AiRichBryanGreen

Bryan Green

AiRichMe

Myself

With the project, she travels to a wide variety of events and festivals such as Amsterdam Open Air, Kwaku and LowLands and will go international very soon. If there are event bookers reading this > CONTACT VIA THE ARTIST’s OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE.

During the film section, two of her short video’s were shown, which also shows her potential in directing music video’s, check them out here >>

Absolutely stunning music video made for and with the Philly born, Krakow (Poland) based experimental vocalist Poet Af Black

And a teaser clip for the Art Chi Tex project, an afrofuturistic film project by Poet Af Black and Melanin Kris, set in Amsterdam

AirichPhotography1

AhijahmadebyAiRich

Two of my absolute favourite favourites of her photography works

AiRichCyberpunk

AiRich inspired me to improvise my own cyberpunk / tumblr aesthetics photoshoot in the industrial bathroom area of WORM, featuring the artist herself!

For a more in depth portrait, read AiRich’s feature article for AFROPUNK!

4. Bryan Green

Bryan Green, also from Philly and a close affiliate of the Philadelphia afrofurist scene, came over from all the way from Krakow, Poland, where he is a singer and percussionist in Poet Af Black’s Ankh Orchestra. But he is also an amazing video artist who has worked several times with Moor Mother Goddess.

Poet Af Black & Ankh Orchestra live

His freshest work is a video edit: SIFR SUNYA ASUNRA featuring music from Moor Mother Goddess, officially out since yesterday. This was demonstrated during the sci-fi readings, with in the background essay readings by Rasheeda about the ancient egyptian sun god Ra – referring to the legendary musician and philosopher Sun Ra who also appears in the vid – space-time and politics!

Another video featuring Camae before she started the Moor Mother Goddess project, as a lead singer of the Philly punk band The Mighty Paradocs!

Another music video directed and edited by Bryan Green that absolutely blows my mind: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ by Philly songwrited and MC Queen Jo

5. JoAnn McNeil

Even though her work itself wasn’t on display as such, being one half of the duo Nyfolt and regarding the importance of the visual and the sonic in Nyfolt’s work, I wanted to feature some more of her work here. She brought a couple of small paintings to the work shop as a first inspiration but, as I found out on her artist page, she usually works with a combination of acrylic and spray paint on big canvasses. Here two recent examples that I really like.

JoAnn1

‘I Am Focused’ (2015)

JoAnn2

A work from 2013

JoAnnExhibition

JoAnn surrounded by her work at an exhibition in St. Louis in 2013

JoAnnStudio

The artist at work

>> Buy her creations HERE <<

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Prepare for two more posts, one short article about Afrofuturism and the black speculative fiction scene and a big feature about the climax of the week: PANTROPICAL with Islam Chipsy, Mutamassik, DJ Firmeza & DJ Lilocox !

 

Afrofuturism: The Apocalypse and Beyond

NOTE: My Afrofuturism series are a week belated because I had problems with logging on to the site

BQFMirrors

Photo via: Black Quantum Futurism

“You ARE the noise gate” – Magician from the shortfilm ‘Noise Gate’ (2013)

The venue WORM is connected to a bar-restaurant, Wunderbar, where the afrofuturist vibes trickled through in the form of shangaan electro, and music from William Onyeabor and Fela Kuti, softly playing in the background. But behind this ostensibly superficial scene-setting hid a deeper message. Continuing the theme of the movie Crumbs, the second day was in many ways dedicated to the notion of a future after the apocalypse, which, as I found out, plays an important role in the afrofuturist movement as a whole.

The afternoon zine workshop was organised by Rasheeda from The Afrofuturist Affair and Ras from Metropolarity, two affiliated platforms where the creation of zines to showcase literature, art & more is a central activity. With a powerpoint presentation, the participants were challenged to reflect on human life in a possible, post-apocalyptic world. The assignment was to create a zine, with possible drawings, poems, ideas, quotes and picture collages from the many newspapers and magazines that covered the table only using sissors, paper, a copy machine and staples. Issues that were discussed were causes of the apocalypse, opportunities and challenges, leftovers of the known world, technology, traumas, identities and communication. Towards the end, the title of the zine was called ‘bubble to bubble’, referring to a networked community-structure as a replacement for our complex pre-apocalyptic mass society.

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In the films too, the theme of perception and interpretation, one of the more intellectual elements of post-apocalyptic sci-fi came back in different ways. In the film ‘Noise Gate‘ (2013), directed by Vim Crony (Long Beach, California) a scientist from the future in search of the ultimate truth travels through different dimensions via a space-time tunnel called the noise gate. Inside the noise gate, the vibrations that produce reality lose their harmonious coherence and change into a whirlpool of cacophonic noise, at the end of which a wholly different kind of reality will be assembled. Every passage through the gate is a little apocalypse in itself. Stranded in a desolate, lifeless world and looking for the gate to exit, the (male) scientist encounters a majestically dressed (female) magician who appears to hold the key and answer to his search. Taking off his steampunkesque goggles and opening his eyes reveals a buzzing iris, the color television, tuned to a dead channel: Gateways for imagination, holding the power to travel dimentions and to create realities. “You ARE the noise gate”.

‘Touch’ (2014), directed by Shola Amoo (London, UK), is almost the opposite in both story and aesthetics. No desolate wastelands or otherworldly dressed scientists and magicians, but rather green fields outside London, covered with gently waving grass, and and two innocently dressed adolescents. This film was hard to review because of it’s many, multi interpretable layers and symbolic messages.

I personally perceived it as a critical commentary against the self-perceived purity, fragility and mindfullness of white-people’s intimacy (time and again perpetuated in mainstream cinema through the aesthetics of whiteness) juxtaposed to the supposed physicality of black people’s sexuality, expressed by means of a science-fiction story about a controlled, black-female conscious real-life avatar robot, who discovers the meaning of love and tenderness as an intersubjective experience between her lover and her. Official descriptions and reviews however, give a totally different picture and call it a film “about becoming a 21st century creative amidst a rapidly gentrifying city.” Here, the protagonist girl is an artist who develops a relationship as a way to escape a creative impasse and explores the limits of human experience that can be shared through technology. Two interpretations of a film that have absolutely nothing to do with each other; mine probably even making no sense at all. Nevertheless, stunning cinematic work and definitely food for further thought.

The final movie is more a music video than a film per sé, in the sense that the experimental rhythmic ambient track produced by Moor Mother Goddess plays an equally important role as the visuals. Black Quantum Futurism, is a third Philadelphia based community of deep thinking creative minds, established by Rasheeda Phillips and Moor Mother Goddess, which focuses on the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics in relation to worldview, consciousness and cultural perceptions of time and language. In a brilliant word-play, ‘Black Bodies as Conductors of Gravity’ connects the notion of the black body in the politics of race to the black body as a theoretical concept in physics of an ideal material object which perfectly absorbs all radiation. The video is a creative, cryptic expression of the dichotomy between reflection and absorption as well as the relation between the studied object and the observer. The mirror-masked woman in the speculative laboratory full of mirrors, takes her reflecting mask off and seems to be making the discovery when seeing her face reflected in the mirror.

https://vimeo.com/139816961

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The films on Thursday were followed by three performances, from Moor Mother Goddess about whom we’ve already read, the ambient-noise duo Nyfolt, whom we will hear about much more in following posts as well as electric guitar experimentalist Morgan Craft. Unfortunately, experimental vaporwave producer and graphic artist Marlo Reynolds couldn’t be there.

Moor Mother Goddess is a multi-talented artist: a producer as well as poet and vocalist, whose style can only be characterised as experimental rhythmic ambient. Her sets vary between cyber-delic digital soundscapes energetic bassful beats & plunderphonic deconstructionism, enriched with clean as well as distorted vocals. These vocals in turn vary from single utterations to spoken word poetry to essayistic prose to rhythmical rap and everything in between. Moor Moder Goddess manages to encompass the whole spectrum of afrofuturism’s cultural expressions into one single act, which makes her one of the movement’s most iconic present-day voices!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O0ZilYu5YM

Check out a snippet of Moor Mother Goddess’ performance in Rotterdam here!

And here a gripping music vid from 2 years back of the track ‘Of Blood’ from her ‘Alpha Serpentis EP‘!

Check out her new track!

Second to ascend the stage was the duo Nyfolt from St. Louis, consisting of visual artist, vocalist and songwriter Joan McNeil and electronic sound designer Nathan Cook, who describe themselves as a “a multi-faceted / pluralistic Afrofuturist, Neoplatonic, and Cyberpunk sound art / noise group.” Most characteristic for their approach is the intimate fusion of text with music into one very powerful sound-poem. Words and sentences become truly one with the sounds. Ideas, thoughts and emotions become live-created, analog soundscapes, while the soundscapes are in turn verbalised into words and sentences!

Their music stems from an eleborated philosophy, articulated in an official manifesto:

WE ARE FED UP WITH DIVISIVE RHETORIC/ACTIONS AND ARE SEEKING COMMUNION. […] THE GENESIS OF OUR SOUND IS THE COALESCING OF OUR INDIVIDUAL PSYCHSOCIAL TOPOGRAPHIES. […] HUMANISM IS OUR CATALYST AGAINST MARGINALIZING AND ALIENATING IDEOLOGIES. […] TRANSHUMANISM AIDS IN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW TO USE TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRICITY to diffuse our art effectivelt. WE ARE INVESTIGATING IMMATERIALITY AND AND METAPHYSICAL THAT AT TIMES IS INDIFFERENT TO THE FLESH. […] We confront the turmoil, frustration, and anger involved in the culture wars and through interrogation TRANSMUTE these feelings into communion, accord and empathy. NYFOLT IS CRITICAL OF MATERIALISM. Other trajectories are led by INTUITION, AN AFFINITY FOR THE PECULIAR, and a desire to avert, neutralize, and extinguish THE CORROSIVE AND PARALYZING EFFECTS OF PREJUDICE, DISCRIMINATION, AND CONFORMIST THOUGHT/LIVING.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY9F7RUO_KI

Nyfolt’s freshest release ‘Gutter Echoes Side B’

When, after these two powerful performances, the crowd was only half prepared to have their minds blown for yet a third time. Guitar virtuoso Morgan Craft‘s music was in many ways unlike the other two, particularly because of his unique use of the guitar as a tool to make experimental, futuristic music. Craft is a veteran when it comes to experimental music. Originally from Brighton, he has been based for long periods in NYC and in a small village on the Tuscan countryside and is now operating from the cosmopolitan, yet cozy and friendly Amsterdam, the best of both worlds.

In an in-depth interview with the experimental music blog The Improvisor, Craft describes himself as a bluesman, ‘blues’ not to be understood as a genre but as a well of emotion, and a heir of the intellectual and spiritual freedom of jazz, again not a genre but an attitude towards making music. If there is anything Craft reacts against, it’s the phenomenon, also described often here at Generation Bass, about musical flavours degenerating from open-ended expression into a fixed formula, a genre, that can be copied. This even goes for experimental or improvisational music or the use of computers as a gimmick instrument to merely ‘look’ futuristic.

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“I don’t care one tiny bit about the style of music called ‘improv’, in fact I think most of the people who play ‘improv’ are liars at this point.  They get up there and think they have to play like what ‘improv’ is supposed to sound like.” – Morgan Craft to The Improvisor

In this indeed highly original performance, he recorded loops of sounds, both harmonic and noisy, live played on his quitar and stacked new layers on top of it, including using a early 00s discman which transmitted hip hop beats to the pickup via headphones. He kept alternately adding and replacing elements so that the sound body organically evolved into an organic being able to propel itself. At several moments, Craft laid down his guitar and walked off the stage like a Leibnizian deity, resting after masterfully winding up the clockwork of the universe, now running itself in perfect harmony.

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Morgan Craft’s instrumental setup with guitar, discman and several connected recording and effect devices

Morgan Craft’s recent full album, improvised and recorded live

Afrofuturism: A Palette

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Design by: *H3R GaLAXY*

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“Afrofuturism should better shown and experienced than just talked about” Rasheeda Phillips

The first day of Afrofuturism Now! Was an acquaintance with its many forms in literature, film and music. Including literature is an exciting new area for both WORM and Generation Bass, who have been heavy on music and some film but less on textual culture. And it turned out very well.

The festival opening consisted of readings from the main panelists: co-organiser Rasheedah Phillips from the the Afrofuturist scene’s central platform The Afrofuturist Affair, poet, spoken word performer & sound artist Moor Mother Goddess and Ras Mashramani from the intersectiopnal emancipatory sci-fi platform Metropolarity. All are based in Philadelphia, one of the main home bases of the afrofuturist scene in the United States and worldwide.

After some first opening words from the WORM crew and Rasheeda, Ras started with introducing the Metropolarity platform: a place where contrasting identities in race, class, gender and sexuality express their realities of growing up in contemporary world by means of science fiction. She read a throat grippingly powerful story as an example of the literature featuring in the zines they publish, written by herself, about the bleak coming of age of a caribbean immigrant in California and the self-perpetuating reality of the term ‘thug’ in America’s language politics.

Moor Mother Goddess performed a short spoken-word poem about the significance of Afrofuturism as a concept.

Rasheeda Phillips continued on that with a conceptual story about the physical mystery of time and our culturally shaped perception of it. What if, she asked, the universe would, at some point in 2016, reverse its expansion and time would start running backwards. How would humanity respond? How would our verbal and conceptual dealing with time, dominated by the Western idea of time as a line, come to terms with such reality? As a deeper message behind it, the story suggested that African, indigenous American or Asian conceptions of time might well be much better suitable to the reality of the 21st century that we are increasingly experiencing already now?

After the main panellists, there was an improvised, yet brilliant lecture from the Dutch writer and anthropologist Theo Paijmans, who connected the almost entirely ‘white’ phenomenon of belief in UFOs and alien abductions to the reality-based African American folklore of the Night Doctors, mysterious kidnappers who captured African Americans for scientific experiments. His research culminated into a literary, steamFunk-esque novel which is about to be released in both Dutch and English and could be heard here as a first, ‘pre-release’ teaser.

After a first break, the Ethiopian post-apocalyptic sci-fi film ‘Crumbs‘, which we promoted in February this year, was shown. This in itself was a special opportunity because apart from its premiere on the prestigious Rotterdam Film Festival, it has never been shown anywhere in The Netherlands. The Addis Ababa based Spanish director Miguel Llansó happened to be on amicable terms with the WORM crew, having fallen in love with the venue, always dropping by on his visits to Rotterdam for the film festival.

‘Crumbs’ is a masterpiece which, in a way that reminds Terrence Malick, excels in communicating a subconsious atmosphere without telling a clear-cut story or presenting a thoroughly complete fantasy universe. The jawdropping Garcia Marquesque magic-realist story shows the life of a couple: Gagano, the protagonist-hero, a middle-aged man with a deformed body, and his wife, the young and beautiful Selam. They go through the all-too human relationship issues while living alone in a deserted bowling hall, where the bowling rails keep magically spitting out bowling balls and other objects. The bowling machine, however is a space-time port behind which in a distant place, a singing monk-like figure called Santa Clause, dressed up as Santa Clause, pretends to fulfill their wishes but never does. Outside in the sky hovers a rusty spaceship which has been there since the beginning of memory. Now it starts to move and seems to be preparing for its return to a distant planet. Gagano, who believes he and his wife belong on that planet and wish to escape this barren land, decides to find and meet Santa Clause in person to fulfil his wish, which leads him into an epic journey in which every crumb of the civilisation that is familiar and banal to us starts to loose its reference and acquires a mythical significance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kadevbEgcQk

Watch the trailer here again

After the movie, the people gathered in the venue’s bar, to chat, evaluate and eventually dance to the melodic, somewhat shangaanflavoured afrobeat called ‘Bacardi house’, created of the upcoming Pretoria (South Africa) based talent DJ Spoko, who was booked for this very first afterparty. The vibe had to build up slowly and, apart from a few enthusiasts who demonstrated an advanced-looking kuduro choreography, it took a while before people were drawn towards the dance floor.

I (Sxmbra, which means ‘ghost’ just like ‘Spoko’), would have loved to meet and interview him in person. But I had to catch the last metro to the house where I stayed so I missed this opportunity. Expect some more attention for DJ Spoko soon on Generation Bass!

Check out DJ Spoko’s newest track

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DJ Spoko behind the desks