Watch the video for Rucio here: youtu.be/t0HxMPZUkJQ
Growing up in Nairobi, Leon Duncan learned to produce music by experimenting with recording software in his high school's computer lab. Before long he was selling beats, but his restless, anxious mind quickly drew him closer towards extreme music. Duncan had never played guitar, but answered a call for guitarists from local heavy metal band Lust of a Dying Breed. Together with vocalist Martin Kanja (now half of Nyege Nyege's Duma), he developed an idiosyncratic form of Kenyan industrial music, patching a synth that sounded as serrated as distorted guitar and getting kicked out from his apartment in the process. When a track made its way to Nyege Nyege Tapes, Duncan was extended the creative freedom to develop his sonic experiments.
"Fuck a rosetta stone for my brain waves" is the result of Duncan's tireless tonal and rhythmic research, and a narcotic voyage into a fiercely independent mind. Chaotic opener 'A.I took err jobs' is a layered pile-up of five algorithms that bend a rhythm into fragmented shards of stuttering glitches and rolling kicks. 'Ching' is slower and more measured, reminding of Actress's squashed futurist techno fuzz, with a sublime trip-hop loop loping through stuttering digital guitar noise. The album is a reflection of Duncan's experiences and desires, sketching out responses to his environment and interests: 'Babur' is his way of translating the sensation of watching Nyege Nyege Festival performances while on acid, while the synapse-blasting 'Digital Drug' tangles with primordial triggers in the sounds of nature to activate fight or flight responses.
One of Hakuna Kulala's most surprising records, "Fuck a rosetta stone for my brain waves" is an uncompromising introduction to a young Kenyan original. Like Muslimgauze, Klein or Slikback, Leon Duncan maps out uncharted musical territory, challenging expectations and paradigms in the process.
Boomkat Product Review
Blinding debut volley of industro-dub and free-jazzed electronics by Kenyan prodigy Leon Duncan - a peer of the incredible Duma - unveiling a shockingly distinctive style for NNT’s Hakuna Kulala sibling. Imagine Slikback toe-to-toe with Actress, dubbed to tape by Klein and then piped thru Equiknoxx's FX chain >>
Absolutely following his nose for radical electronic music, Duncan delivers one of the most thrilling new albums of 2021 with nine blasts of algorithmic shrapnel gelled into freakish, pranging arrangements pieced together after getting kicked out of his apartment for being too loud and writing personal soundscapes that matched the rhythmic chaos of East African club music with the physical intensity of harsh noise and grindcore. It all stems from research with software at his high school computer lab, which quickly resulted in him selling beats, with his urges eventually leading him off on more experimental tangents to extreme music, ultimately linking with Duma’s Martin Kanja and developing a perpendicular style of rhythm-driven and wildly atonal experiments. However, rather than anything self-consciously “i’m mad, me” styles, Duncan’s music feels like an urgent expression of independence, like he’s really searching for something, and is practically unbound by notions of trend; just doing what feels right, and resulting in what may be perceived as delirium in the process.
Trust it’s not all frenetic, making room for slower strains of psychedelia in ‘Ching’ and Jahtarian digi-dubbing in ‘Nintendo Dub’, plus the beatless rendering of ‘Plugged in kalimba blues’, all lending a necessary balance to the rambunctious club suss of ‘Rucio’ with its steamrolling percussion, or the likes of his breathless tumble in ‘Babur’, and the radical freeness of his searing leads and skewed Singeli-esque rhythms in ‘Digital Drug.’ When the album comes to a close on 'Acute Psychosis', with its pineal stroking synths and tweaked woodblock rhythm (part East African culture musiq and part first wave dubstep), there'll be no doubt in your mind that Leon Duncan's operating on another plane entirely - showing up so much contemporary Western club and electronic music as boring line-dance reenactments. It’s real deal upfront gear for 2021 = devour without delay.