For a couple of years now I’ve been working on this new music that’s based on my experiments with Pure Data software (algorithmic, generative compositions), on LOS-HEL (where Emeka Ogboh’s Lagos Soundscapes meet my electronic compositions) and my own releases which bring together West African musics with experimental electronica and Western minimalism. In short: music that combines various West African aesthetics with Western algorithmic composition.
I started calling this music, tongue-in-cheek, Afrorithm: Afrobeat + algorithmic composition. The idea was of music where the sort of cerebral seriousness of Western experimental music (and that of algorithmic composition) would be fused with more passion, drive and higher musical sophistication from Afrobeat and other West African musics. I’m fascinated by both worlds, yet I’m surprised that to my knowledge no one has attempted to combine these two before (I’m really looking forward to the day when kids in African cities and villages, grown in musically advanced and rich cultures, start creating algorithms to produce part of their music – how would that sound? And what kind of algorithms will they come up with?). Because Afrobeat and algorithmic music aren’t mutually so exclusive: they both share the idea that rich organic complexity arises from just few elements interacting. In Afrobeat this would mean musicians jamming, improvising together; in algorithmic music it’s the system – the algorithm – that generates new music live, from the few seeds provided by the composer.
What began as a fun experiment and play of words has now turned into reality: I’m already recording my next album, a follow-up to ‘Sahara’ and currently titled ‘Radiance’, and it’s based on live treatment of prerecorded material from the Sahara and LOS-HEL sessions, with the help of generative algorithms. And I’m confident to say that this is the most successful realization of my ideas, as described above, to date. Therefore I’d like to make the label Afrorithm official now, and elevate it into an actual musical genre among all the other genres.
Afrorithm = Afrobeat + algorithmic composition. North and south.
Cultures always borrow from each other, this is how the humanity endures and progresses. Afrobeat itself was born when Fela Kuti returned to Nigeria from his American and European sojourn and wanted to fuse his newly discovered Western Jazz and Funk influences with African Highlife and traditional Yoruba music. And the man who really got this new fusion kicking was of course Tony Allen, the drummer in Fela’s band. Perhaps a new musical frontier could be the sophistication of Western algorithmic composition meeting the sophistication of African live musics.
In Berlin 01.08.2016.