For Berlin-based Kenyan artist KMRU, the art of listening is a crucial facet of music-making. “I feel like the things around us have something to say,” he told DJ Mag in 2020. “I’m training and un-training my ear every day. Exploring the audio beyond what I hear and starting to listen more. In connection with my art practice, deep listening has impacted much of my awareness and presence, and [taught me to be] mindful, both in my immediate environment and in my interactions with human beings.”
It’s a message that’s carried through in the musician’s Selections, which take in blissful synths, tactile guitar recordings, streetscape experiments from Nigeria, indie rock and much more. You can dive into those below.
In just a short few years, KMRU has established himself as one of the most prominent young names in the wide world of experimental electronic music; his releases are tapestries of rustling field recordings and deep, meditative ambience, stitched with a painterly touch. His 2020 albums ‘Peel’ (on Editions Mego) and ‘Jar’ (on Seil Records) resonated with listeners in search of transportive, gentle sounds in times of unprecedented instability and pain.
His prolific run has continued in earnest ever since, with a string of solo and collaborative works released via his own Bandcamp along with an appearance on the popular Longform Editions label. Each new offering has demonstrated KMRU’s ever-evolving musical practice, in which the production of detailed and deeply emotive sonic textures relies on an understanding of the sounds that surround us. Keep an eye out for something new from KMRU next week.
Earlier this year, he was offered a touring slot in support of Brooklyn-based indie rock band Big Thief, which introduced his music to legions of new listeners. Next week, he’ll perform at Portugal’s Semibreve, playing alongside artists including Caterina Barbieri, Jana Rush, Félicia Atkinson and Lisbon’s Príncipe Disco. He is the ideal addition to a festival that DJ Mag has previously described as one that makes every sound count. Tickets for Semibreve are available here.
“It's always fascinating to hear the different sound approaches that Actress uses with his collaborative works; this track has been on loop since its release. I love the dreaminess and the synth’s evocations that are brought in when listening to the track over long periods.”
“Definitely one of the albums this year that I've been excited about. The ‘No Tiempo’ track embodies a physical emotion with Lucrecia's voice, drawing you to hear all the subtleness of the voice. I like the idea that the album explores an environmental tuning in which there's a feeling of freeness.”
“The album transcends different sonic emotions and makes it stand out! The record expresses much about life, personality, and Coby's sonic identity.”
“Quite a transcendental track! The record evokes so many jazzy float-aways. Sublime record to put on replay this fall!”
“This album drifts through Nigeria's busy street life and feels relatable to Nairobi's city soundscape. Emeka's approach to working with field recordings feels so innate in his compositions, immersing one in Nigeria's danfo world and soundscapes. A recommended listen!”
“The past year I’ve been listening to many guitar records, and Julia's record devours methods of what guitar music should be. The opening track 'World in World' invites you to be part of the performance. It feels so tactile; the pedal clicks and her voice adds so much presence to this specific track. It's a body-guitar coalescence.”
“Possibly my most played album, and the one I’ve listened to live most this year, having been on tour with Big Thief! The album has been on rotation most times when in need to slow down, and in reflective times. It feels so close to my heart as I also got to bond closely with the band by being on the road together.”
“One of the finest drone releases for me this year. It submerges, drifts and ebbs into the ethereal. Feels like an unending dream void.”
“A bit late to discover this record but its lushness, tension, and freeness embody such a beautiful, unmatched sonic direction of drone, ambient/experimental music.”
“An introspective album as an extension of a geographic past. Lamin's work posits a deeper reflection of the sound connecting social and political discourse, and he does it best with his albums and works.”
“Pita's work always ignites new perspectives of thinking about what sound can be or should be. This album is a beautiful abrasive noise drone that defies experimentalism and Pita's / Editions Mego singularity. Still missed, PITA.”