Last year, Kenyan sound artist Joseph Kamaru (aka KMRU) and French digital alchemist Niamké Désiré (aka Aho Ssan) were invited by Berlin Atonal to collaborate on a project for the festival's Metabolic Rift edition. The duo had already been working together, but the offer provided the momentum to shift the conversation into another gear. Initially, they looked for thematic connections within their individual practices that might match Kamaru's meditative soundscapes with Désiré's crumbling cyberpunk expressionism, and surprisingly for two artists renowned for their grasp of minimalism, it was the opposite that drew their attention. Watching the world shift as it reacted to the spiraling pandemic, Kamaru and Désiré were moved to experiment with volume, physicality, and intense emotionality
“I never made something so extreme," Désiré says of the duo's first recording, 2021's 'Ruined Abstractions', an extended composition that matches dense, powerful low-end drones with fractal digital fuzz and smokestack bruit. It set the mood for a back-and-forth that resulted in their seismic debut full-length, "Limen", described by the two acclaimed artists as an attempt to scrutinize the yin and yang of destruction and creation. Cacophonous, concrete crunches fanfare the album's opening piece 'Resurgence' - the result of their Berlin Atonal commission - but the track refuses to languish in wrecking ball devastation. Instead, powerful synthesized harmonies ring from beneath the rubble, before stifling everything in a humid fuzz of dense, emotionally-charged cinematic electronics
Influenced by the prescient post-apocalyptic mood of Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira" and the mythological phoenix, an immortal bird said to be reborn from the ashes of its dying predecessor, "Limen" is an album that sonically snapshots the anxious, floral beauty of an explosion or the colorful intensity of a raging fire. It's rooted in concepts of duality - the idea something unsettling can be viewed from a different angle and re-interpreted. On the album's epic, 21-minute centerpiece 'Ruined Abstraction I + II', swirling electromagnetic interference paints a haunted parallel vista that dissolves slowly into subtle, orchestral tones and booming, widescreen thuds. Almost angelic closing track 'Rebirth' meanwhile is the most unashamedly beautiful composition Kamaru and Désiré have written together, but its choral bliss is doused in petroleum noise and saturated distortion
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