There’s an almost intimating depth to the sprawling, intricate music of KMRU. On the surface, it nods towards giants of ambient and drone like William Basinski and Tim Hecker, all seismic pads and glacial pacing. On further inspection, though, there’s something else going on here, woven between the processed field recordings that evoke the likes of Manchester’s Space Afrika or Stuart Hyatt’s Field Works project; something a little more dynamic and tactile than the occasionally monolithic impenetrability of many established ambient artists.
KMRU’s background may be instructive. He’s originally from Nairobi, though he’s lived in Berlin, and his grandfather was the musician and activist Joseph Kamaru, whose blend of jazz, gospel, Benga and Kikuyu folk brought him considerable fame across East Africa in the 1960s and ’70s. Kamaru’s highly political music placed him in a turbulent, sometimes dangerous position in the Kenya of that period, as the struggles and tensions of the newly postcolonial country led to conflict.
His grandson’s music doesn’t deal with this complicated history head-on, nor should it have to. It is, however, important to bear it in mind when trying to understand this shifting, amorphous work, whose beauty reveals itself gradually. There’s real complexity here, in the product of an artist whose life and familial experiences have given him a highly distinctive approach and insight. Time invested in Logue will be rewarded in rich, unexpected ways.
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