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Nyokabi Kariũki - peace places: kenyan memories Music Album Reviews

Nyokabi Kariũki - peace places: kenyan memories Music Album Reviews
On her latest EP, the Kenyan composer explores concepts of home and memory through a series of melodic sound collages.

When Nyokabi Kariũki couldn’t go home, she listened for it. In 2020, while studying composition abroad, the Kenyan composer and multi-instrumentalist got stuck in her secondary abodes of New York and Maryland. With Kenya’s borders locked during the pandemic, she had no way to know when she’d be able to return to her hometown of Nairobi. But in her music, she retreated to the familiar haunts of her memory, constructing a likeness of home that began to distort into something tangled and dreamlike. Closeness to the place you call home brings comfort; distance can transform those feelings, magnifying the things you miss most. On her new EP, peace places: kenyan memories, Kariũki invites us to explore a selection of visions that grew larger than life during her time away.

Kariũki’s most cherished spots in and around Nairobi—which she affectionately calls her “peace places”—became the seeds from which each track on the EP would grow. She had started collecting videos of these locales on her phone years ago, and they now felt like a sanctuary when she felt the ache of homesickness. “I need to absorb everything, and sound is a way of preserving the memories,” she said in an interview with Spitfire Audio. Kariũki used the audio from these recordings as a base to build melodic sound collages, filling out each piece with relevant sketches of Kenya.

On “Galu,” the sound of waves swirling along the shoreline of the titular Kenyan coastal town is the compositional nucleus. “I go down at 6 AM to swim,” Kariũki repeats in a half-spoken refrain, as a cymbal softly skitters. The lapping waves intensify, and the percussion along with it—a thumping beat and the rapid plucking of a kalimba break in, like cutting a breaststroke against the tide. Kariũki uses the chirping of birds as the central germ of “Equator Song,” singing sweet harmonies over the discordant squawking. She sings here partially in Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya, and partially in Maa, as an homage to her Maasai heritage. The decline in use of Indigenous languages due to British colonial rule is a fact of life in Kenya, and Kariũki acknowledges her lack of fluency in each as an uncomfortable element of life in her homeland.

Time away from home can change the way you see things when you eventually return. When Kariũki was finally able to visit her grandparents for Christmas in 2020, she stored the occasion for safekeeping in the recordings heard on “A Walk Through My Cũcũ’s Farm.” The moment feels lighthearted as Kariũki’s grandmother shouts in her family’s native language of Kikuyu about the difficulty of plucking an onion from the ground. But an anxious electronic haze swirls underneath, slowly rising to the foreground. The contrast holds a mirror to Kariũki’s own conflicted feelings in the moment; there’s a sense of togetherness, but she knows it can’t last. “Peace maybe always does come with disconnect and dissonance,” Kariũki told Bandcamp Daily, “and maybe there’s a bit of home in that as well.” In her embrace of both the joy and the heartache, Kariũki paints a messy—and honest—picture of the places most familiar to us.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Nyokabi Kariũki - peace places: kenyan memories Music Album Reviews Nyokabi Kariũki - peace places: kenyan memories Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, March 18, 2022 Rating: 5

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