Alongside the burgeoning experimental electronic scene in east Africa is a small but committed underground of metal bands, based in Nairobi. These groups are breathing life into a field hampered by a continued lack of diversity and the preponderance of racist imagery. Duma is one of them, driven by the artistic experimental force of Martin Kanja.
The music by Duma, where the vocals are swahili mixed with slang, takes a surrealist approach to its metal and electronic influences, scattering elements of different styles while preserving a distinctive and unique character.
The work exhibited in the show is a video collage of found footage with vocals by Kanja, a collage of mixed influences from films (Bunuel) to psychedelic visions, science fiction cartoons and photographic fragments from scientific documentaries. The random succession of scenes of fantastic creatures, semi recognizable bits of surrealistic undertones, old experiments with filming techniques and animations of deathly acts in combination with the swirl of Kanja’ s voice creates an unsettling, unresting sense of fear. The low frequencies and the weirdly calming and monotonous vocals increase the emotion of restlessness in the viewer, reminding us of how colorful darkness can really be.
Martin Kanja (1990) is a musician, artist and fashion icon. Emerging from the Nairobi metal scene, he is the founder and singer of electronic pychedelic metal duo ‘Duma’, increasingly popular in Africa as well as in Asia and the US.
-Text by Sara van Bussel