The Kenyan artist plays with the very fabric of sound itself on his new record of powerful, sometimes serrated ambient and drone music.
Dissolution Grip Review
“Powerful ambient that creates great things from simple means - arching dynamic changes, long-drawn tones, serious dramaturgy.“ - HHV Mag
Pitchfork DIssolution Grip
The prolific Kenyan-born, Berlin-based electronic musician departs from his typical use of field recordings, but environmental sound still makes its mark on his immersive, long-form explorations.
THE WIRE : 477
ALBUM OF THE DAY
KMRU, “Dissolution Grip”
a record by a musician masterfully bending a myriad of influences to his will.“
KMRU: Dissolution Grip
Dissolution Grip exists outside of time and place, while deep inside them both. As might be expected given his back catalogue, each of the sounds on KMRU’s latest project started as a location-specific field recording, but were ultimately sculpted and retooled in the image of an orchestra, giving up their origins in the pursuit of beauty.
KMRU Launches Label with New Album'Dissolution Grip' LP is scheduled for September 29 release.
We round up 15 announcements from the last few days.
KMRU - Dissolution GripLabel: OFNOT Release date: September 29th, 2023KMRU announced the first release on his new label, OFNOT, this week, and also revealed a new project on Finnish label Other Power.
Nairobi-born Berlin-based sound artist Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, shares his new work Stupor on the new Helsinki-based label Other Power. Commissioned by the Helsinki curatorial and commissioning agency PUBLICS, Stupor is comprised of three original long form tracks. The tracks on the album are speculative notes to social architectures and environments the artist has traversed.
Composed by Joseph Kamaru
Mastered by Stephan Mathieu at Schwenbung Mastering
Original photos & artwork by Joseph Kamaru
OBI Design (Publics identity presence) by Valerio Di Lucente
Design by Matti Nives
Co-produced by Performa / PUBLICS / Other Power
“Dissolution Grip' expands at its own pace until it's a dense wall of harmony, powerful but never completely overwhelming. It's music embedded with a rich sense of place that informs us of KMRU's past and present, and signals where his musical philosophy might take us in the future. “
Pre Order Lp
Bandcamp / ANOST
Out on 29th September at OFNOT
Drawing Water Reissue , W Abul Mogard
Reissue of KMRU's Drawing Water on Vaagner imprint A Sunken Mall - with the original material spanning the first side of the record in remastered from. The original release contained 3 supple works of porous resonance and intimate motion, giving way to a very heartfelt body of work that peers directly into the fabric of the everyday; gestures, movement, conversation, rendered graciously into waveform. For the second half of the record, the label has taped none other than Abul Mogard, who prepared a new piece by reworking various layers from KMRU’s original compositions.
This new 17 minute long piece, tilted 'Drawing Water On Matching Teal Surfaces' is defined by a continuously cascading and deeply resounding solemnness, which, towards the work’s concluding moments, gradually disperses through a subtle downpour of warm pads, delicately rippling through the fabric of the work, before gently dissolving into thin air."
KMRU: Lost in Teufelsberg
TEMPORARY STORED, PRIX ARS HONORARY MENTION 2023
“(…) Temporary Stored is nonetheless not a rehashing of European colonial violence—this piece rather uses sound as a conjuring of specters of oral and cultural histories of Central and Eastern Africa.”
KMRU scores EXTANT
EXTANT, ON WHAT IS HIDDEN BETWEEN THE APPROPRIATE AND THE INAPPROPRIATE
Choreographer and associate artist Jermaine Maurice Spivey on Extant,
Five Rewire alumni featured on compilation release Remotely Together
Podcast 799: KMRU
Pensive, drifting ambient.
A Closer Listen
glim cassette- Limited Edition
Artist Tips: KMRU
The secrets behind the ambient sound artist's work.
Pitchfork Glim Review
This digital-exclusive album from the Berlin-based Kenyan artist sounds blank and unrevealing but opens up to reveal a wealth of detail.
KMRU’s continuing exploration of reflective ambient space and sound remained top notch on 2023’s glim, one of the artist’s most subtly varied releases yet. With mastering provided by fellow traveller Simon Scott, the twelve piece collection showcases KMRU’s approach around shorter pieces for the most part, with many only just breaking the three minute mark if not four. The expected combination of cryptic field recordings and serene drones can be found but so can crackling disruption on “strain” and the calmest sense of melody on the striking “orna.”
First Floor #162
There’s been no shortage of praise thrown KMRU’s way during the past few years, and much of it has focused on the Kenyan artist’s ability to strip his ambient creations down to the bare essentials. Populated with finely tuned microdetails and unassuming field recordings, KMRU’s compositions often have a quiet grace, their meditative beauty determined as much by what he puts in as what he chooses to leave out. That’s still the case on much of his new album-length release glim, but “room” offers a slight deviation, its lithe drones and orchestral swells displaying a kind of sonic stridency that feels like a new addition to his toolkit. It’s not quite as bold as Limen, his volcanic collaboration with Aho Ssan, but given that project’s raw power, perhaps it’s not surprising to see KMRU bringing a bit more muscle to his solo work. “room” is still an exquisite creation, but it’s not something that will unobtrusively loom in the background.
Random and emblematic: The sound of space
by Felicia Atkinson, Büşra Kayıkçı, Carmen Villain, Kuniyuki Takahashi, KMRU and more
Kamaru’s piece Stretch Mabati’ opens with warm saturated drones, scattered with field recordings and distant clangs of corrugated metal, all the while progressing and expanding outwards. As glitches flutter and intercept the composition, a blissful crescendo is reached, then steadily, the track simmers down, reducing to its core elements to finish.
Narrating Environments” A Discussion between Lukasz Polowczyk and KMRU
Recently the two artists had the opportunity for a brief chat, pondering the ethics of field recording, the importance of listening, and subliminal nature of familiar sounds.
Fact Mix 893: KMRU & Aho Ssan & Sevi Iko Dømochevsky
Artist Sevi Iko Dømochevsky visualises the kind of catastrophe that KMRU and Aho Ssan make audible in their Fact Mix, one that is painful to comprehend, yet serves as a prescient diagnosis of our present.
Subbacultcha: An Interview with KMRU
KMRU listens to cohere with that what’s around. Sometimes as an observant with bare ears, sometimes as a collector, documenting what passes by. KMRU’s re-sculpted collages, big or small, brim with details, props and pieces of decor. They capture reveries of another time, and especially of another place. We spoke with the sound artist and musician about era’s in one life, liminality and slowing down. ‘
V/A -INSHA / Nairobi Ableton User Group
ACL 2022 ~ The Top 20 Albums of the Year
KMRU & Aho Ssan ~ Limen (Subtext)
There is nothing like the sublimity of watching a natural landscape transform at the scale of human time. The video for “Resurgence”, the first track of this album, depicts an erupting volcano hauntingly recreating its surroundings. It is a haunting experience simply because what is no longer there lingers, somewhere beneath our sight, as the lava redraws the landscape anew. The music follows suit: it flows, yet grinds, like molten stone; it bubbles with electronic noises and traces the air with hisses and compressed sounds; it fills whatever space you play it in with volume. It is the perfect combination of these two artists’ practices, in terms of ambient and abrasive electronics, an overwhelming and expansive set of pieces that expressionistically builds a listening cycle of creation and destruction. The limen is the border of perception, an idea that crosses the entire album as it grows these masses of sounds — like the lands around the volcano, the music shifts right at the edge of perception, and it is impossible to truly keep in place, to fully process in the moment it happens. It will hit you, after a while, and it will burden you with the weight of the earth as it suffers its demise. Such is the power of Limen. (David Murrieta Flores)
Ransom Note- Silence: A reflection on migration and sound with Emeka Ogboh & KMRU
Kenya-born sound artist KMRU and Nigerian sound artist Emeka Ogboh discuss their respective journeys.
They often say that we are a product of our environment – that our environment is what then influences our perspective, our interests, our sense of self and our creative outlook. However, what happens when that environment changes? What happens when we are emerged in a new environment with different social constructs, different sounds, different sights and different cultural ideologies? Emeka Ogboh and KMRU are both visionary artists based in the city of Berlin, both have worked tirelessly in fierce pursuit of endeavours and projects which challenge and deconstruct the boundaries and sensibilities of art’.
In this conversation the two reflect on the shock they experienced when experiencing the silence of the city for the first time; recount stories of their most powerful installations and the narrative of ‘experimental’ art in the context of African culture.
KMRU follows collaborations with Seefeel, Luke Slater/Speedy J, Echium and Aho Ssan for the likes of Editions Mego and Berghain’s A-Ton, with a bouquet of bittersweet synth meditations that return us to his most intimate side. Doing for ambient electronica what his fellow Kenyan artist Slikback did for techno, KMRU exerts an expressionist angle on the paradigm with a distinctive grasp of texture and tone mirroring aspects of 0PN or Emeralds’ capacity for evoking nostalgia and a sort of fraught sublime, allowing everything space in the mix to breath with an unhurried pace and subtly stressed tang that effortlessly enchants to his slant.
Now a resident in Berlin, KMRU implicitly echoes the spaced-out seduction of Conrad Schnitzler’s early work with Tangerine Dream and Kluster, and later works by Cluster or even Sun Electric, in his navigation of buttons, faders and wires. The silvery grayscale tone and warmth of ‘guise’ sets the mood for a drift between pastoral melodies and field recordings of in pieces’, thru the serenity of ‘luminous beings’ and OOBE-like sensation of ‘resonant sharing’, to his most bittersweet use of texture on the edge of noise with ‘In new fields’. From there the album takes on a more rhythmic impulse with results recalling Lali Puna in mood’, and even more eaze’s puckered suss in ‘other times’, thru to a heavenly airborne waltz titled just’.
The 50 Best Album Covers of 2022
40. KMRU & Aho Ssan, Limen
Limen is a fascinating collision of styles. Given Kenyan sound artist KMRU and French electronic musician Aho Ssan’s normally divergent approaches to minimalism – contemplative ambient and chaotically abrasive deconstructed club, respectively – you would expect the duo to try to find an effective middle ground. Yet what they describe as a seamless back-and-forth led the two artists to push themselves to new extremes, and the resulting album reaches the sort of gracefully volcanic intensity that its cover beautifully exudes. “For the cover of Limen we were looking for an image that mirrored and expressed the sense we had of our collaborative working process,” Joseph Kamaru told us. “The image, by Martin Rietze of Sumatra’s Sinabung erupting in 2014, expresses various materials and elements — stone, air, lightning, cloud, and pyroclastic flow — that are driven into synchronization by geologic forces as one dynamic process in which everything becomes a single organic and explosive moment, transcending its constituent elements.”
Kenyan Sound Artist KMRU’s New Album Emerges from a Desire to be Grounded
'epoch' LP is available now.
KMRU - epoch
For his follow-up to 2020's acclaimed Jar, Berlin-based Kenyan sound artist Joseph Kamaru realized he needed to reflect on just how much had changed in two short years. Even aside from the obvious global disruptions, Kamaru's life had changed completely: a move to a new continent, a sequence of fresh creative projects (including work with Paris's Aho Ssan and Manchester's Echium) and tours with Big Thief and Fennesz inspired Kamaru to think a little differently about his creative expression.
Written in Spring 2022, epoch emerged from a desire to be grounded. Constant touring had left Kamaru with a desire to slow things down to sooth some of the emotional intensity of continual movement - something he'd never realized he had the strength to endure. It felt fulfilling for him to be back in Berlin for a while, so he channeled this energy into the technical challenge of getting to know a brand new synthesizer - the Sequential Prophet REV2 - that's responsible for the majority of the sounds on the album. Secluded in his home studio, Kamaru dubbed synth sounds on the fly using pedals, looping and layering, then filling out the tracks with field recordings captured while on tour in the USA.
It was effortless, he explains. The album finished itself. Kamaru had been listening obsessively to iconic American synth trio Emeralds which motivated him to explore pure synthesis: to build sounds from scratch and form his music in a more holistic, emotionally connected way. Grateful for the experiences he'd managed to have while traveling and meeting new people, epoch his way of unravelling these feelings in slow-motion. From the gently saturated opening notes on 'guise', there's a feeling of tenderness that's impossible to ignore. The faint rustle of human beings in the distance - laughing, talking - reminds us of the world outside, while deep, brassy harmonies sooth the soul.
Unlike Kamaru's explosive, noisy collaboration with Aho Ssan -Limen, epoch is an exercise in restraint and control. While he's influenced by the synth music canon, Kamaru uses these colors to paint his own unique landscape, broadcasting a story that's steeped in experience, movement, and careful observation. Tracks bleed into one another like dye in water, and the record takes on a dreamlike quality - explaining it is difficult, but feeling it is profound.
text: john twells
Kenyan producer KMRU rarely lets more than a few months go by without sharing new music—most of it excellent—but epoch is his first new solo album in quite some time. (It’s also currently available as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp.) Dealing heavily in gentle drones, soft melodies and elegant field recordings, the record should further solidify his position as one of ambient music’s most thoughtful and talented figures, and hits a particularly high note on “mood,” a song which impressively finds serenity amongst a pulsing tone (that honestly recalls an old-school busy signal) and what sounds like rustling paperclips.
Burberry x KMRU
Festive Gifting campaign 2022
Track: Matching Teal Surfaces
In this series, Selections, we invite DJs, producers and label heads to dig into their digital crates and share the contents of their collections. This week, KMRU spotlights blissful synths, tactile guitars, streetscape sound design, indie rock and more.
RA unveils full details of limited-edition birthday book, Sacred Spaces
Bandcamp Navigator, November 2022
The second track of Kenyan ambient artist KMRU’s latest album “MR1” starts off in a way that is similar to The Orb’s “Into the Fourth Dimension,” one of the more abstract pieces on The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. The elements are all there—looped samples of people speaking, field recordings, a mix that rushes from left to right in a way that is almost dizzying if you’re listening in headphones—but KMRU’s work slowly, subtly, begins to change this formula. Instead of staying low-key, floaty, and mesmerizing, it slowly adds more, louder sounds to the mix, causing one’s mind to have to do a little work to keep up. It’s, frankly, exhilarating in a way that ambient music, usually by intent, rarely achieves. That’s the theme for all of the tracks on this spectacular album. The elements of these songs—chants, rumbling synths, news reports, the occasional kalimba—all vie for center stage. Somehow, it’s never chaotic. KMRU is adept enough at his craft to ensure that the components of his work are never fighting each other for attention. Rather, they’re all boldly asserting themselves and working together to create a result greater than its parts—an album that is fresh, mysterious, and infinitely compelling.
BERLIN ATONAL X CYPRIEN GAILLARD PRESENT: A GREAT FALL, Palais de Tokyo.
For the exhibition HUMPTY DUMPTY, Cyprien Gaillard and Berlin Atonal make a new collaboration. Together they have invited a lineup of special artists to use the medium of the dub soundsystem as a way of transforming the entire museum space into a new kind of echo chamber for one night. The heterogeneous line-up brings together legendary experimental drum and bass pioneer Krust and Kenyan soundscape experimentalist KMRU, Rhythmic sorcerer Nkisi and Mellowdramatics from the London-based Black Obsidian Sound System.
KMRU - don't linger they might see you
An unsettling homage to the mysterious nature of dreams from the Berlin ambient music star.
As KMRU, the Nairobi born, Berlin-based producer Joseph Kamaru has experimented with many different strains of ambient music. He's currently pursuing a masters degree in Sound Studies and Sonic Art, and it's not hard to pinpoint the impact that this academic approach to contemporary composition has on his work. Where the July LP Temporary Stored used field recordings to grapple with themes of colonialism, his new single, "don't linger they might see you," is more eerie and esoteric. Contrasting found sound samples with periods of quietude, it's inspired by the surreal realms we visit in our slumber. Over the course of 32 minutes, staticky field recordings underline subdued synth tones that morph from bassy drones to metallic, trebly pads. The sprawling piece evokes absorbing a scene in a horror movie without ever turning towards the screen.
DJs will undoubtedly reach for the high-octane reworks that populate much of Courtesy’s new Night Journeys Remixes EP. Those unconcerned with revving up the dancefloor, however, can luxuriate in KMRU’s spacious take on “Night Journeys III,” in which the Kenyan ambient specialist stretches the song’s reverberant guitar tones across a moonlit night sky, ultimately sounding something like a ’90s slowcore band playing on the surface of the moon.
Visiting Artist KMRU at Un-Writing Nature
Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research
The Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research (CAD+SR) is delighted to announce that Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, will be a Visiting Artist at Un-Writing Nature II, an intensive research residency and workshop to be held at the historic Villa Pianciani, Spoleto, Italy, September 27 - October 4, 2022.
MOS DEF, KMRU, MAKAYA MCCRAVEN, MORE FEATURE ON SOUNDTRACK FOR NEW NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY, CIVIL
Netflix has unveiled the soundtrack credits for its new documentary, 'Civil: Ben Crump'.
Among the artists whose music features on the film are Mos Def, KMRU – with two tracks from his 2020 album 'Jar' – Makaya McCraven, K-Ci & JoJo, and Bobby Womack.
The documentary itself focuses on the life and legacy of American civil right attorney Ben Crump, who has represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black victims of police brutality in the US.
KMRU & Aho Ssan erupt in post-apocalyptic extremity with ‘Resurgence’
An explosive edit from Limen, the first collaborative project from Kenyan sound artist Joseph Kamaru and French electronic composer and producer Niamké Désiré.
A tale of two Kamarus
Two musicians bore the name, Joseph Kamaru, a grandfather lost to time and a grandson in the midst of his destiny. Here’s the story of the Kenyan folk titan and his ambient composer grandson, what they share and the weight of legacy. Interview.
Acid Test: April 2022
KMRU & Aho Ssan
Listening to Limen, the cataclysmic debut album from KMRU and Aho Ssan, is like watching something beautiful burn to the ground. Over recent years, both of these sound artists have released defining work while taking very different approaches. The Berlin-based Joseph “KMRU” Kamaru’s gorgeous ambient pieces typically begin as field recordings, often taken from his home in Kenya or around other regions of East Africa. Meanwhile, the Paris-based Aho Ssan (aka Niamké Désiré) is best known for building virtual instruments and dense Max/MSP constructions like 2020’s Simulacrum. On Limen, their approaches connect like a spark hitting dry brush, leaving hellfire in its wake.
The pair draw influence from the anime Akira (1988), and just as that classic film sets deep character dynamics against the sprawling backdrop of a global apocalypse, Limen’s three tracks maintain an intimate focus amidst an epic scale. Through body-shaking blasts of sub-bass, surges of electronic noise, and ghostly slivers of melody, opener “Resurgence” creates a storm of disorienting sound without ever letting you lose sight of its tragic, emotional pull. The brief, cathartic centerpiece “Rebirth” burns at the album’s core before setting up “Ruined Abstraction,” a sprawling 21-minute closer whose gentler sonics offer no respite—only images of embers, ruins, and ashes. An operatic voice appears in the final moments, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s there to offer a glimpse of hope, or simply an elegy. That answer may be left up to the listener, but the path Limen takes to even reach that question is a journey worth experiencing. It is one of the year’s most powerful albums.
KMRU and Aho Ssan Announce New Album Limen
Sound artists KMRU and Aho Ssan have announced the collaborative album Limen. The record is out April 29 via Subtext. Below, listen to a preview of the album’s first song “Resurgence.”
KMRU AND AHO SSAN COLLABORATE ON NEW ALBUM, 'LIMEN'
Titled 'Limen', the album takes in three tracks, one of which totals 21 minutes. It's the first studio collaboration from the two artists, following a previous live link-up at Berlin Atonal. KMRU has also remixed Ssan's tracks 'Outro'.
The album is said to be inspired by various global changes that occurred amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and is on the noisier side compared to the respective artists' usual solo material. Ssan is quoted in the press materials as saying he's "never made something so extreme" as the 21-minute cut 'Ruined Abstractions'.
You can check out an excerpt of 'Resurgence', one of the album's three cuts, below. It will be released through James Ginzburg's Subtext label on 29th April.
The LP is out April 29th via James Ginzburg's label, Subtext Recordings.
KMRU and Aho Ssan have linked up for an album on Subtext.Spanning three tracks, one of which clocks in at 21 minutes, Limen is the first studio collaboration from the two artists, following a performance at Berlin Atonal and a KMRU remix of Ssan's track "Outro." James Ginzburg's label will release the LP on April 29th.Inspired by global shifts during the pandemic, Limen is noisier and more intense than either artist's solo work, particularly KMRU's minimalist ambient. According to Ssan, he has "never made something so extreme" as the extended album cut "Ruined Abstractions."
Limen : KMRU & Aho Ssan
THE BEST DJ MIXES OF THE YEAR 2022 SO FAR
KMRU - DEKMANTEL PODCAST 378’
When your brain needs a break from the relentless chaos of the world, KMRU is a go-to artist for sounds that soothe and relax. The Kenyan artist’s mix for Dekmantel’s podcast series is a remarkably beautiful hour of music, cocooning you in a blissed-out haze of ambient textures.
Experimental sound artist KMRU is a master of quietness. His music is as much about empty space as it is the delicate field recordings that fill it in.
The Kenyan has been perfecting this balancing act from his base in Berlin, most notably on 2020 full-length Peel. It's a record of slowly unfolding synth beauty and drawn-out drone mindfulness. Soft focus chords bleed and blend into one another like different shades of watercolour paint and the environmental nature of the sound sources lends it a gorgeously natural atmosphere.
For this week's most meditative mix, KMRU puts together an hour of soothing sound in a painterly fashion. It is unhurried but always going somewhere thanks to a gentle underlapping rhythm, expansive synth arc or little hiss of static. What sounds like distant vocal calls drift in and out of the mix which at times is like a recording from the furthest recess of the cosmos, at others the pleasant ambiance you might hear out of a Berlin window on a sunny afternoon.
50 Years of Music: 2020 – KMRU - “Degree of Change”
SHAPE Platform is taking over crackaud.io this week
KMRU with Markus Heckmann
Presented by Musikprotokoll, Graz
KMRU’s absorbing ambient compositions have the capacity to make time stand still. Always attuned to the sounds of his surroundings, Joseph Kamaru – aka KMRU – transforms environmental field recordings into mesmerising sound art, as evidenced on the graceful Peel or his 2021 release Logue.
For this transcendent new audiovisual work for the SHAPE Platform takeover, KMRU has teamed up with visual artist Markus Heckmann. Speaking on the piece, entitled By Absence, the pair state: “Considering an emancipatory approach to composition, By Absence juxtaposes on one sound that goes throughout the piece with its relation to the other sounds reconfigured from the same sound.”
Continuing, they add: “This long durational piece changes subtly, although still recounting to the main sound; an antiphonal unrestrained structure that provokes a sense of stillness from noisiness of happenings to phygital [physical plus digital] worlds.”
EP 01: KMRU
SHAPE Mix Series X CTM
Conversation with borshch magazine
London Contemporary Orchestra:
24 Sat 15—Sun 16 Jan 2022,Barbican Hall
The endlessly inventive London Contemporary Orchestra perform one of their biggest live undertakings to date: a continuous 24 hour concert.
But this is by no means taxing, for the audience at least. Relax into an ambient, meditative experience as visuals by projection artist László Zsolt Bordos kaleidoscopically draw you in to a state of deep reflection.
Featuring iconic durational works by composers such as Morton Feldman’s six-hour piece String Quartet No 2 taking the audience through the depths of the night as well as new pieces performed by electronic musicians Actress, Powell and KMRU, plus works by John Cage, Éliane Radigue, Mica Levi, Alvin Lucier, Morton Feldman, Michael Gordon and James Tenney.
Audience members are encouraged to come and go as they please during the 24 hour period, stay for one, two or 24 hours...
London Contemporary Orchestra: 24, Barbican, stage review: ‘Marathon concert offers an eye-opening view of music and humanity’
Big Ideas and Brilliant Sounds: Eight Standout Features and Videos from 2021
Travelling from his childhood roots to where he lives now, Nairobi-born, Berlin-based artist KMRU took us through his approach to location-based field recording in the short film Spaces, which premiered during the Loop Create event in June.
Watch the film >
Laraaji, KMRU, Wata Igarashi feature on Figure's second ambient compilation, Open Space Vol. 2
The 10 best contemporary albums of 2021
7. KMRU – Logue
The Bandcamp page of KMRU – a sound artist based between Berlin and Nairobi, AKA Joseph Kamaru – is always worth checking out for ambient textures. Logue, the third of five mini-albums he released this year, is an addictive mix of meditative electronica, slow-motion synth-pop and bucolic field recordings from east Africa.
KMRU US/ CA Tour 2022
Big Thief Europe Tour w/ KMRU
KMRU has mixed 60 minutes of music from Seefeel's recent retrospective compilation on Warp.Put together on a train from Berlin to Warsaw, the mix selects music from the UK experimental band's comprehensive reissue box set, which came out in May. Out now, the mix is available digitally and as a limited-edition tape, which includes a zine featuring an interview between the band and dance music journalist and author Simon Reynolds.Listen to KMRU's Rapture To Rupt, and revisit our recent RA Exchange with Seefeel's Mark Clifford.
The London-based experimental band Seefeel were cutting-edge polymaths from the start. Pulling in influences from the indie and electronic undergrounds, they were positioned as something like a fulcrum between shoegaze and dub techno. In conjunction with the release of their Rupt and Flex (1994-96) compilation on Warp, Seefeel has teamed up with sound artist and experimental ambient musician KMRU, raised in Nairobi, Kenya and currently based in Berlin where he is a Master’s student in Sound Studies and Sonic Arts at the Universität der Künste. It's an incredibly immersive hour-long reworking of tracks from that fertile period, released on cassette as one track. Rapture To Rupt finds KMRU pulling apart the band’s innovative work into a series of expansive and hypnotic drones. The tape is housed in a glassine envelope along with a sixteen page zine that includes an interview with famed music journalist Simon Reynolds.
All music by Seefeel, original versions can be found on Rupt & Flex 1994 - 96
Mix by KMRU. Made on the train between Berlin and Warsaw
Design by Joseph Durnan
Is the music we make necessarily informed by where we’re born and raised? Or is it largely determined by where we go from there? Or maybe where we are right now is the only place that matters? These and related questions are at the heart of our new artist documentary movie; KMRU: Spaces.
The movie, first streamed as part of the online event Loop Create, follows KMRU’s path from his childhood in Nairobi, to his family’s move to the outskirts of the city, and finally to Berlin - his current home. Along the way we see footage of the artist in some of the places and spaces that have inspired him in his work and hear how his changing surroundings impacted his way of hearing, recording and crucially, composing his music.
KMRUAfter his family moved from an inner city Nairobi neighbourhood to Rongai on the edge of one of Kenya’s vast national parks, Joseph Kamaru became obsessed with nature and the sounds it produces. He weaves field recordings taken from his surroundings into his transfixing live sets, which also explore live jamming, stuttering distortion and eerie ambience to hypnotic effect. A recent collab with motion designer MinimalicQuantum added a dazzling visual dimension to this naturalistic exploration. Having been based in Berlin all year, studying a Sound Studies and Sonic Arts degree, KMRU has found a new world to record and aurally explore. He’s since emerged as favourite on the European experimental scene, with sets he’s played this year including a live stream inside Berghain with Luke Slater and Speedy J, and festivals across France, Spain, Poland, Germany and Austria.
Our 50 favourite albums of 2021
The 2020 discovery of glittering Kenyan producer and composer thanks to his album Peel brought a much needed luminescence to otherwise dark days last year. Peel swiftly became a portal into his prolific output, spanning compositions released on Bandcamp, as well as digital and physical LPs too. Ever-growing infatuation with the wonders of his cinematic sound design and ambient compositions was furthered thanks in large part to Logue. Taking its moniker from a catalogue, or Logue, of his music, the tracks are collected between 2017-2019, yet each one gives way perfectly to the next. Amidst instrumentals and his field recordings from Africa, KMRU leads you by the hand on a journey through his captivating universe – one that simultaneously feels otherworldly and real. Birds chirping break the day, rushing water falls flow anew, wind rushes across your limbs, a mediation of listening. – GH
60. KMRU –Logue(Injazero)
Logue takes in rippling ambient/drone lushness from a well-travelled Kenyan, Joseph Kamaru, who is now resident in Berlin. Recorded between 2017 and 2019, it's built equally of nu-new age synth melodies (with outbreaks of what seems to be live instrumentation) and field recordings which, inscrutable in their origins, transport KMRU’s music to somewhere more sinister than blissful.Noel Gardner
The Nairobi-via-Berlin artist has also shared a free pack of field recordings from Kenya, Uganda, Canada, Germany and France.
KMRU is the focus of a new documentary by Ableton. The 11-minute film, entitled KMRU: Spaces, delves into the ways in which the producer and sound artist draws inspiration from his surroundings, and uses sound to explore the world around him.
The documentary zooms in several defining moments from KMRU’s (real name Joseph Kamaru’s) life so far, and explores how these experiences influence his work, and his approach to music-making and field recording. Kamaru reflects on a childhood spent in Nairobi’s loud and bustling city centre, as well as a period spent on the outskirts of the city, on the border of a national park. In the film, Kamaru compares the two locations and their varying soundscapes.
Last year, Kamaru relocated from Nairobi to Berlin to pursue a Master’s in Sound Studies and Sonic Arts. He discusses the move in the film, and reflects on how his work has shifted in response to his new environment. He also walks viewers through some of his studio and production processes.
Watch the new film in the player above and download KMRU’s free field recordings here. You can also revisit our feature on the experimental artist, taken from Issue 120.
For this streamed commission, KMRU presents imperceptible , perceptible. Constructing remembered sonic thoughts of decayed time, the piece explores lived experiences of sound, gradually returning us, we, them to the present or past. Exploring field recordings, noise and drone, imperceptible , perceptible probes to impetus the knowing. Subtle durational changes of sounds, and moving images create phantasms as reflection of the present.
Thu 18 Nov, 2021, 8pm
KMRU's new Bleep mix is a gorgeous impressionist array of vague shapes and blurred figures, occasionally coalescing into melodies or discrete sounds. It's pretty, unpredictable and occasionally, of course, spooky.
To celebrate the release of the Tresor 30 box set we have a special mix from KMRU. Enjoy.
A contemplative dive into the sonic remembering, the mix to me evokes the sense or remembrance or trying to remember, featuring artists and musics that I've been listening and remembering in the past months.
For some musicians, the pandemic seems to have had positive effects on the cultural scene despite the devastating damage it caused to the fields. The producer Joseph Kamaru alias KMRU was one of the discoveries in electronic music last year. It helped that the Kenyan-born and Berlin-based ambient musician landed with Editions Mego with his album Peel . It shouldn't be the last of his releases in 2020. After five albums in just under two years, he has now teamed up with colleague Echium for an album of sublime serenity.
Rather clear in length, Peripheral wanders from one island of silence to the next in stations lasting three to six minutes. Getting to the heart of the success with Ambient is usually faced with the obstacle that the music likes to evade conceptual access. In the case of KMRU and Echium, the almost static surfaces are initially moved by the usual reverb, then open up visibly through loose sound combinations. Some of the pieces even have a rather dry acoustics, just bring a few milky chords to flow with minimal noise accents. Even without an aesthetic revolution, there is a lot going on here.
The outside is droning: An interview with KMRU
Thomas Burkhalter, Daniel Jakob
The eight-track album was produced remotely between Nairobi and Manchester
KMRU and Echium have collaborated on a new album, ‘Peripheral’. Check it out below.
The eight-track experimental ambient release was produced between the artist’s respective homes in Nairobi and Manchester, with the artists combining their respective specialisms into what KMRU has described as a “psychic collaboration”.
KMRU, who is now based in Berlin, folds his organic field recording manipulations and textured electronics into Echium’s sparse and frosty dub techno atmospheres. Echium also created the album’s abstract artwork.
As John Twells writes in the album’s accompanying text: “Echium and KMRU make abstract electronic music that sounds as if it's bursting free of the digital world: they ink a utopia that's verdant, fertile and teeming with life.”
listen to, and buy, ‘Peripheral’, via KMRU’s Bandcamp.
A five-song follow-up to the electronic musician’s May album Logue
KMRU has released the new EP As It Still Is. KMRU wrote his EP in Berlin during the winter, and Rafael Anton Irisarri mastered the five-song release at Black Knoll Studio in New York. Listen to As It Still Is below.
In a statement, KMRU said his EP is “bringing together fragments of recordings and narratives which were quite nostalgic.” He continued, “Using field recordings mostly from Nairobi, I was trying to reconstruct some past lived experiences in the present longings (at that time), reflecting on nostalgia as a refiguration of past experiences, whether lived or reminisced.” Listen to
KMRU is the moniker of Berlin-based Kenyan electronic musician and sound-artist Joseph Kamaru. He released the full-length Logue in May.
Read the Rising interview “Meet KMRU, the Ambient Musician With His Ear to the World.”
No excuse is needed to highlight the talents of KMRU, but given the passing of Editions Mego founder Rehberg last week, now seems like a good time to once again highlight one of his label’s biggest recent success stories. Here, the Berlin-based Kenyan transforms Koki Nakano’s “Overlay,” weaving the Japanese pianist’s elegant chords into crackling loops, ultimately landing on something that’s both hazy and comfortably meditative.
Leftfield sounds from Africa and the diaspora
KMRU’s music feels both unique and familiar. His releases (like May’s Logue LP) demonstrate this duality well, with the Kenyan artist flexing his skills within the realms of ambient and leftfield electronic music much to the delight of his ever-increasing fan base. This mix, shared as part of our Specialist Mix series, offers a similar experience. However, instead of honing in on his own sound, KMRU showcases a selection of music from Black artists in Africa and across the diaspora. There are tunes from Slikback, Space Afrika, Nexcyia, Wayne Phoenix, alongside several of his own, sprinkled in for good measure. Plug in, unwind and be sure to check out the full tracklist on crackaud.io.
I was listening to a lot of Brian Eno’s works and this led me to discover Vernal Equinox. I was really inspired by Jon Hassell’s approach to playing the trumpet, and all the futuristic timbral sounds of his works. His concept of the Fourth World is still relevant today.
Kenyan producer Joseph Kamaru performs an experimental session as part of the Swedish festival’s 2021 programme.
The second of this week’s performances from the 2021 edition of Malmö’s Intonal Festival comes from Joseph Kamaru aka KMRU, a experimental musician and sound artist from Kenya. Kamaru’s music makes extensive use of field recording techniques to create multi-layered, richly textured ambient compositions. Last year, he released three albums, including the outstanding Peel for Editions Mego.
Kamaru’s performance, which took place on June 18 at Malmö’s beautiful St. John’s Church, sees the artist make use of synth hardware and software on a set that contrasts delicate tones with rough, noisy textures. It makes for a suitable companion to Johanna Knutsson’s Intonal performance, which took place in the same venue.
Camera Operators: Amanda Davies, Tony Jageteg & Henrik Hellström
Editor: Henrik Hellström
InFiné, le Maintenant Festival, le Centquatre et le Groupe de Recherches Musicales de l’INA ont mis en place un dispositif d’accompagnement de carrière artistique inédit.
After discovering him in 2018 and seduced by his artistic approach, these four actors of the cultural sector, defenders of creation and emergence, decided to unite their strength around the music of the Kenyan producer KMRU .
Initially, the INA grm made a studio available to the composer for an artistic residency from June 14 to 27, 2021. This allowed him to experiment and develop his musical practice through instruments and unique infrastructures in France. Like other guests before him - Jim O'Rourke, Matmos, Kali Malone to name a few - KMRU was able to deepen its research around concrete, electroacoustic and experimental music in the best conditions.
This Parisian residency will be followed by a live creation time around a 360 ° "multichannel" device , presented exclusively during the 2021 edition of the Now Festival in Rennes as well as at the anniversary weekend of the fifteen. years of InFiné at the Centquatre next winter.
Finally, this collaboration will be punctuated by a KMRU album released by the InFiné label in 2022.
Ostgut Ton's experimental sub-label A-TON is releasing a collection of Luke Slater's lockdown collaborations.Out digitally June 25th and on vinyl in August, DIALOGUE features four tracks between 15 and 25 minutes in length. They were each produced remotely during lockdown by Luke Slater and collaborators Anthony Child (AKA Surgeon), Speedy J, KMRU, Lady Starlight and Tom Moth, the harpist in Florence + The Machine."It's not live jamming as such," explains Slater, who conceived the project and proposed it to A-TON. "
A single live, one-take recording of audio and video is passed from person one to person two as a file. Then they, using that as a background, record their performance in the same way. Both performances are then passed to a third performer who does the same. Then I mix it at the end."Slater features on all four tracks, while Surgeon features on three, Moth on two, and Lady Starlight and KMRU once each."
My contribution was at the third stage," Speedy J told Resident Advisor. "The material I got to work with had the layers from Luke and Joseph already done, so I took what was already there and filled in the open spaces. My approach was to enhance the stuff they did, and complete their ideas. They initiated, and I commented."Each of the artists used one machine only, without sync or beat-matching, and built up the process as a domino effect of audio and video stems. "The beauty is always in the unknown and spontaneity in improvisation," said KMRU.
Listen to DIALOGUE.
Leftfield sounds from Africa and the diaspora – Mixed by KMRU
The Kenyan ambient artist – real name Joseph Kamaru – has garnered the attention of music fans worldwide over the last year thanks to his deeply moving output, and drifting, meditative sounds. In 2020, he released three LPs – Peel, Jar and Opaquer – with the former landing via Viennese experimental imprint Editions Mego. All three releases – plus last month’s album, Logue – signal an artist with a clear focus and boundless vision.
Given his compelling approach to composition and arrangements, we thought we’d tap Kamaru for a specialist mix devoted to the sort of leftfield, experimental and ambient sounds he’s been quietly fashioning into something that sounds entirely unique to him. Kamaru’s mix showcases an array of tracks produced by Black artists from Africa, and the diaspora.
KMRU, known for his use of field recordings in emotive, experimental compositions, spent his formative years in Nairobi, where he says the background noise was constant. Upon moving outside the city in his teens, he found that the stillness of his new hometown drastically changed how he heard the sounds around him. This contrast he perceived, and the resulting shift in his creative output, cemented in him just how deeply our sonic environment can influence us.
But there’s more to an artist’s work than their surroundings – personal history, internal feelings and beliefs can all play a part in the creative process. In this session, KMRU will tell the story of the urban and social world that helped form his ideas and artistic personality, and invites us to discuss with him in an extended Q&A: Is the music we make necessarily informed by where we’re from? Can we find ways to appreciate artists’ influences, without minimizing their experiences or reducing their work to just an example of a culture?
KMRU's participation is possible with support from Paris cultural institution INA GRM, where he is currently artist-in-residence and will be streaming from for Loop Create.
LSBU's Sonic Research Group and South Bank Sound Lab are excited to launch a series of three Listening Sessions with invited guests, who will join us to share recent compositions or works-in-progress, and give us an insight into their creative process.For our second session, we are delighted to host Kaffe Matthews and Joseph Kamaru aka KMRU, two sound artists known for - amongst other things - working with field recordings
KMRU im Zeit-Ton Porträt
Diese Woche präsentiert das ORF musikprotokoll im steirischen herbst sein Festivalprogramm 2021 und auch dieses Mal haben wir wieder mehrere Musiker/innen eingeladen, die heuer bei Shape dabei sind. Shape, das ist die Plattform für spannende neue Musik und audiovisuelle Kunst des Festivalnetzwerkes ICAS der International Cities of Advanced Sound, die Ende 2014 vom ORF musikprotokoll und fünfzehn weiteren europäischen Festivals gegründet wurde. Jedes Jahr nominieren wir gemeinsam 48 Künstler/innen bzw. Kunstformationen, auf die dann zwölf Monate lang unsere Scheinwerfer gerichtet sind.
Kennenlernen beim Nyege Nyege Festival 2018
Zu unseren zahlreichen Aktivitäten zählt auch ein jährlicher Shape Showcase bei einem befreundeten Festival außerhalb der Europäischen Union. 2018 führte uns dieser zu unserem ICAS Partner im ugandischen Jinja, zum Nyege Nyege Festival. Dort haben wir KMRU kennengelernt, dessen so feingesponnene Musik uns gleich aufhorchen ließ. Mittlerweile gilt der ursprünglich aus Nairobi stammende Musiker als einer der spannendsten Vertreter der ostafrikanischen Elektronikszene. Vergangenen Juli erschien bei dem renommierten Label Editions Mego sein Album "Peel", seit vergangenem Herbst macht KMRU an der Universität der Künste in Berlin seinen Master im Studienlehrgang "Sound Studies and Sonic Arts".
Musik, so unberechenbar wie das Leben
Als musikalisches Ausgangsmaterial verwendet KMRU vorwiegend Field Recordings, neben Synthesizern und weiteren elektronischen Instrumenten, die er auch Mal so verschaltet, dass sie mit vermeintlich fehlerhaften Klängen überraschen. Nach seiner Kompositionsmethode gefragt, schildert der Künstler, wie gerne er improvisiert; sich von seiner Intuition und der Magie des Moments leiten lässt. Seine Musik solle so unberechenbar wie das Leben selbst sein.
"Es ist wie im Leben, so vieles passiert gleichzeitig und alles befindet sich in einem steten Wandel. Es gibt kein Raster, demzufolge etwa der Krankenwagen genau um 3 Uhr 45 vorbeifahren wird oder dergleichen", führt KMRU aus. "Das Leben ist vielmehr ein ständiges Zusammenspiel von Zufälligkeiten. Deswegen habe ich 2019 aufgehört mit einem Metronom, mit einer fixen Zeitstruktur zu arbeiten. Meine Musik soll sich ganz natürlich entwickeln. Ich versuche, beim Komponieren nicht zu viel über das Ergebnis nachzudenken, um mich von Ideen nicht blockieren zu lassen. Ich möchte so frei wie möglich sein. Ja, meine Musik soll so unberechenbar wie das Leben selbst sein, wie der Wind oder ein Baum.
Im ersten Moment versprüht die Musik von KMRU eine oft heimelig anmutende, mitunter geradezu lieblich verträumte Atmosphäre, in die sich jedoch bald eine untergründig brodelnde Spannung einschleicht, bis man plötzlich meint mitten in einem Zwielicht zu stehen oder in einem Nebel, in dem sich alles in nichts aufzulösen scheint.
"In der Regel versuche ich einen Zustand herzustellen, in dem man nicht so genau weiß, was man fühlen soll und ob man diesen Sound gerade wirklich gehört hat", so der Künstler. "Bei "Peel" ist mir das am besten gelungen. Auch ich entdecke bei jedem Hören neue Details. Ja, man soll sich beim Hören meiner Musik in einem Zwischenraum wiederfinden."
Neben seiner eigenen künstlerischen Tätigkeit engagiert sich KMRU auch sehr für seine Kolleg/innen, stellt ihre Musik in Radiosendungen vor oder gibt sein Wissen im Rahmen von Workshops weiter. So hat er etwa in Nairobi eine Ableton User Group gegründet und war am Aufbau von Black Artist Database (ehemals "Black Bandcamp") beteiligt, - mehr darüber gibt es dann am kommenden Sonntag in Zeit-Ton extended zu hören.
(Shape wird durch das Programm "Kreatives Europa" der Europäischen Union gefördert.)
Gestaltung: Susanna Niedermayr
Concerts / Etnoscòpic
El keniata KMRU inauguró en la basílica de Santa María del Mar el festival multidisciplinar EtnoscòpicEl artista desplegó su música ‘ambient’ en una hermosa velada de espiritualidad laica
Concierto de KMRU en la basílica de Santa Maria del Mar.Albert Garcia / EL PAÍS
KMRU said his goal with his new Groove mix was "to offer a transcendental experience," and he gets pretty darn close with this hour-long session.
Berlin-based ambient artist KMRU has signed to Injazero Records for the release of a new album, Logue.
Compiled of previously self-released works produced between 2017-2019, Logue charts KMRU’s path from his roots in Nairobi, Kenya to his first explorations outside of his home-city. Some of the earliest compositions on the album—2017’s “Jinja Encounters”, for example—represent KMRU’s first trips outside his homeland and the experience of new sights and new climates. The album is “intensely personal” with “powerfully intuitive expression,” we’re told, “crossing continental divides with a singular elegance.”
KMRU, real name Joseph Kamaru, released his Peel LP with Editions Mego in the summer of 2020. He followed that up with the albums Opaquer (Dagoretti) and Jar (Seil Records) that same year. His work is uniquely positioned between the cultures of ambient and African musics, entwining his compositions with field recordings from his native Kenya and the surrounding countries.
Without question, KMRU is one of electronic music’s biggest lockdown success stories, but after hearing the Logue album, which compiles tracks he made between 2017 and 2019, it quickly becomes clear that the world should have been paying attention to this Kenyan ambient artist (who’s now based in Berlin) years ago.
In comparison to his more recent offerings, which often deal in sparsely populated (albeit undeniably arresting) soundscapes, tracks like “Argon” and “OT” are comparatively lush, evoking a sort of cosmic sensibility with their loosely sci-fi synth melodies and cinematically expansive approach. In truth, they’re not far off from Cliff Martinez’s Solaris score (for the film’s 2002 remake) that Kevin Richard Martin mentioned in this week’s First Floor interview.
“Jinja Encounters” takes a different approach, leaning heavily into field recordings and constructing an almost idyllic scene—complete with birdsong and the sound of a babbling brook—before the song blossoms into something more propulsive. It’s a more grounded effort overall—some of the percussion literally sounds like samples of silverware clanking against a plate—but the humility of the song’s component parts ultimately only enhance its invitingly tranquil spirit.
May 18, 2021 Brad Rose
Across long stretches of KMRU’s brilliant Logue, electronic sounds become tangible landscapes bathed in prismatic light. Synesthesia flickers through vivid colors teeming with organic aural ecosystems as KMRU explores unexpected sonic combinations spread across nine memorable tracks. For one of the planet’s most compelling ambient musicians, Logue pushes into fresh directions as he explores new pathways to bring this intensely personal expression to life.
I love how KMRU seamlessly weaves field recordings from Kenya and East Africa into his synthetic sound worlds. Of course these natural sounds aren’t new to ambient music, but he does it in surprising ways. With the stunning “A Meditation of Listening,” birds and insects dance with bubbling arpeggios, blurring lines between the artificial and the real. It doesn’t matter where one begins and the other ends as it’s all part of the same system. Repetitive chords outline buried memories, obscured behind painful experiences that are trying to surface. As minimal rhythms gradually roll into view, the bass gets louder, letting you know this isn’t something that can be ignored any longer. The field recordings shift, a door creaks and closes, and the tension lifts. You’ve made it through. Soft, sweet synth notes open up and let the light stream in.
Morning approaches after a long night on “Argon.” Huge synth swells drift away, burned off like fog, so ringing sequences can rise up and give into the growing anxiety. KMRU’s music often lives on this knife edge between catharsis and paralyzation. Pieces like “11” have a lightness and freedom to them, bobbing along like clouds catching rays, where “OT” is apprehensive. The latter’s pulsing layers remind me of Ricardo Donoso’s earlier work, but the underlying strings and African street sounds add a new, unexpected layer.
Throughout Logue, KMRU pulls the reins tight. His songs are dialed in and precise, only showing as much as necessary so the audience gets to where he wants them to go. When the kosmische-tinged arpeggios of the title track repeat into infinity, a calm control emerges. Yes, this world is full of terrible things, but small moments of levity and kindness make all the difference; a belly laugh on “OT” or the soothing water sounds of “Und” bring us back to center, ready to face down the darkness again. Logue is an incredible record from one of the best.
Kenyan born and Berlin-based ambient artist Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, has released a new album Logue, collating self-released tracks from 2017 to 2019. The tracks were originally released as part of shorter projects or loose singles, but now fit into this larger project.
Given new context, the album flows effortlessly from start to finish, showing that his tunes not only work well together even when produced without the original intent of an album, but that he is an excellent selector as well.
“Every track reflects an event, space or location,” Kamaru writes. “The pieces are developed from field recordings, improvisation and spontaneity.”
The ambient works collate field recordings that make it feel like you are out amongst chirping birds or a slowing field of grass. This is all done with the guiding hand of gentle analogue synthesis. Some tracks like “A Meditation Of Listening” are a little darker, while others like “Bai Field” are mellow and soft.
It is a wonderful listen from start to finish that makes you grateful he put this together.
KMRU - “History and Community”
We’ve heard assorted miniatures by the Nairobi-born, Berlin-based electronicist KMRU on his Bandcamp page. Logue is compilation of some standouts: the immersive bleeps of Argon; the fluttering, acoustic D’n’B of 11, the bucolic electronica of Und, the tumbling digital arpeggios of the title track. Immersive and compelling stuff.
Due: 14th May
It feels strange to describe an ambient musician as a ‘breakout star’, but the past 12 months have proven a quiet whirlwind for Joseph Kamaru. He continues a prolific run with Logue, which comprises works created between 2017 and 2019. Fusing analogue synthesis with field recordings, the results exemplify the tenderness and warmth that have helped KMRU generate such a dedicated following over the last year. – WP
In the parable of the blind men and the elephant, six men feel different parts of the creature ~ tusk, trunk, tail, ear, leg, side ~ and after doing so, draw different conclusions. In like fashion, various reviewers have categorized KMRU as being ambient, electronic, and experimental, while noting his use of field recordings. Each facet represents a different side of the artist.
Last year, Joseph Sannicandro ran an in-depth feature on Nairobi’s Joseph Kamaru, including an enlightening interview. 2020’s Peel made both our year-end ambient list and overall chart. The album represented what some writers called a progression from a more rhythm-based sound to a more ambient-based sound. Logue seems to travel in the opposite direction, until one realizes that the new album is a compendium of “early” self-released work from the artist ~ the quotes used because the artist is still young, and the music was recorded from 2017-19.
All of the aforementioned styles are represented, yet the album flows beautifully from start to finish, a function of wise sequencing ~ something hard to do when tracks were not originally recorded as part of a set. Logue has a freshness of spirit that reflects the joy of the artist as he begins to set ideas to tape. And now we arrive at a reviewer’s conundrum: I like KMRU’s latest album more than his last, although it was recorded earlier. Will the artist receive this as a compliment?
I spent eight days in Kenya in the 90s, including two in Nairobi, and was quickly adopted as a friendly mzungu. The experience was life-changing. During that short period, I came to realize that the people there had a lower standard of living that I, but as a whole were happier than the average people in my home country. The difference was due to community and a sense of pulling together. While this is an oversimplification, in the United States, people expect everything to go right all the time, so when it doesn’t, they get grumpy. In the tiny town where I stayed, people expected things to go wrong all the time, so when they didn’t, they rejoiced. This is the spirit of Logue.
The album feels like the country, although it includes tracks inspired by journeys to neighboring nations. At the same time as Kamaru is exploring new territories, he’s also exploring new avenues of sound. “Argon” may begin as an ambient piece, but soon the electronic textures begin to bubble to the surface like camouflaged creatures in the rain forest. In “Jinja Encounters,” field recordings begin to flow: running water, local birds, creaks and conversation. Harp sounds join the picture, offering an air of modern composition; and soon, even a post-rock tinge. This means Kamaru has touched on six out of seven of our genre tags, the only exception being drone. The combination of African rhythms and instruments with electronic timbres creates a mesmerizing cross-blend. “OT” sounds like early Aphex Twin, another artist whose spots changed over time. This time, the field recordings are joined by tribal chants, a reminder that such elements sound more authentic when coming from an artist who lives in a tribal nation rather than a Western-based, urban-dwelling musician with a sampler. The sound design and stereo effects are exquisite, most dynamic in “Und” although the title “A Meditation of Listening” says it all.
In another context, “11” might be an invitation to the dance floor. In this context, it’s a reminder that in most of Africa, people are not waiting for clubs to open in order to dance. Dancing, singing and music-making are integral parts of life, a reflection of nature’s rhythms, caught by KMRU like rain in a basin. For me, the album is a happy reminder of a realigned mindset. For the rest of the world, it may arrive as a soft revelation. (Richard Allen)
Ben Rivers, Look Then Below, 2019. Courtesy of Ben Rivers and LUX, London.
Presented as a part of the third Coventry Biennial, Listening to the Anthropocene at Coventry Cathedral is a major new exhibition of sound and moving image artworks that explores the ways that field recording and sonic research can help attune us to the shifting state of our planet, at a range of scales.
Newly commissioned and specifically adapted artworks form an immersive sound installation in the Nave of the iconic Coventry Cathedral throughout the duration of HYPER-POSSIBLE.
International artists with relationships to locations that have been affected by climate change present artworks along all six of the Biennial’s HYPER-PATHS, but as the title of the exhibition suggests, all of the artworks are particularly embedded in the Sensing the Anthropocene HYPER-PATH, creating an exhibition that explores the idea that we have moved into a new geological epoch – one that is marked by the impact of human activities on the Earth.
Sarah Badr, Department of Energy, Lamin Fofana, AM Kanngieser, KMRU, Rie Nakajima, Ben Rivers, Simon Scott, Jana Winderen
A limited edition 12” vinyl record of the newly commissioned sound artworks from this exhibition will be available from October 2021 via our online shop.
Kenyan sound artist & musician KMRU’s works are made up of disorienting drones, evocative field recordings, noise and improvisation. At Rewire 2021 he collaborates with Dutch filmmaker and video artist Donna Verheijden to create a new audiovisual work responding to one another’s artistic practice. As a contemporary image maker, Donna sees it as a responsibility to analyse and criticise today’s imagescapes.
THE WIRE : ISSUE 447
WHO: The Kenyan sound artist captivating listeners from Nairobi to Berlin.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Over the last year, Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, has nonchalantly secured his spot as one of the new decade’s most important ambient artists. His breakout double album, 2020’s Peel, recalled the atomised sonics and textural decay of William Basinski at his finest. Eight months on falling dreams, a recent eighteen-minute opus, captures the endless present of the pandemic with haunting clarity. Across it’s sprawling soundworld, Kamaru’s drone textures undulate like waves lapping gently against the shore. falling dreams is soothing, but what menace lies beneath the waters?
KMRU ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM, ‘LOGUE’-The compendium of previously released tracks will be released in May-
KMRU will release a new album, ‘Logue’, in May via Injazero Records.
After a breakthrough year in 2020, which saw the Kenyan sound artist releasing three albums – ‘Peel’on Editions Mego, ‘Jar’ on Seil Records, and ‘Opaquer’ on Dagoretti Records – KMRU’s first official release of 2021 is a compendium of self-released tracks, which were previously available through his prolific Bandcamp page.
You can hear, ‘OT’, taken from ‘Logue’ below.
Speaking about the album, KMRU says: “Every track reflects an event, space or location. The pieces are developed from field recordings, improvisation and spontaneity.”
Read our recent interview with the Berlin-based artist, and listen to his captivating Fresh Kicks mix here.
MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Questions 2021 ends with a 27-hour, lively time announcement, performed live by Berliners on the Grand Stage of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele and accompanied musically by compositions from all over the world – an artistic monument in Corona times, a joint project and a show of solidarity.
KMRU has an album coming on Injazero Records.Logue compiles the breakthrough ambient artist's self-released material from 2017 to 2019. Its nine tracks are the result of improvisation, spontaneity and field recording in Kenya and abroad. The LP will be released on May 14th, following Peel, Opaquer and Jar as KMRU's fourth album in the past year.The new, compendium album is KMRU's first appearance on Injazero, a London label run by music producer and journalist Siné Buyuka, which has released music by the likes of Heinali and Matt Emery.Listen to "OT," and revisit KMRU's RA Podcast from last year.
Ethereal soundscapes to get lost in.
KMRU is releasing a new album, titled Logue, via Injazero Records this May.
Read more: The haunting beauty of plunderphonics, field recordings and sonic art
Comprising works created between 2017 and 2019, Logue combines ambient with field recordings and analogue synthesis.
As KMRU, real name Joseph Kamaru, explains, “every track reflects an event, space or location. The pieces are developed from field recordings, improvisation and spontaneity.”
Logue follows his Jar album, released in 2020 on Seil Records.
Pre-order Logue here in advance of its 14th May release, check out the artwork and tracklist below.
2. Jinja Encounters
4. A Meditation of Listening
7. Bai Fields
By Daniel Dylan Wray · March 10, 2021
Ambient and drone music, by its nature, takes its time. Rather than charge in with propulsive gusto, it unfurls slowly—emphasizing texture, prolonging tone, and amplifying silence. So it’s slightly ironic that Joseph Kamaru, who records as KMRU, is releasing this meditative music at a blinding rate—he’s logged nearly 20 Bandcamp releases over the last four years. He’s also making it quickly, and via experiments with spontaneity and improvisation. (His 2020 double album Peel was constructed in just 48 hours.)
Originally from Nairobi, Kenya and now living in Berlin, Kamaru comes from a long line of prolific musicians. His grandfather, also named Joseph Kamaru, recorded a staggering number of albums over the course of his lifetime, and after his death in 2018, KMRU worked to introduce a new audience to the elder Kamaru’s music and political activism.
KMRU’s work often feels rooted in a distinct sense of place: In his songs, field recordings from his native Kenya, and the surrounding East African countries are interspersed with billowing drones, deep ambience, and deft electronics. The result is something that is both distinctive and deeply personal, and has established KMRU as one of the most prolific and innovative artists in his field. Here, we present an introductory guide to his work.
The Bandcamp page of KMRU – a sound artist based between Berlin and Nairobi, AKA Joseph Kamaru – is always worth checking out for ambient textures. His latest, Falling Dreams, is like a piece of distorted thrash metal slowed down to a coma pace until it gently pulsates.
After hearing those Broken English Club tracks, you may need something to calm your nerves, and any one of these four tracks should do the trick. KMRU has been featured a lot here during the past several months, and the fast-rising Kenyan delivered another immersive ambient journey last Friday. Clocking in at more than 18 minutes, “Falling Dreams” is more mournful than his past offerings, and while its gloomy palette likely won’t provide much of a pick-me-up, it is undoubtedly beautiful, with wafting tones and mournful strings softly lilting beneath an ominously grey sky.
Joseph Kamaru, AKA KMRU, enjoyed a meteoric rise to become of one ambient’s most sought after names. The Kenya-born, Berlin-based sound artist has been regular at Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Festival for some time, not to mention being heralded as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ back in 2018, but a Editions Megos debut last year proved to be something of a watershed moment. Serene ambient dream sequencing of the highest order, Peel is Kamaru’s most accomplished work to date.
The Nairobi native’s output has evolved over time. Dealing in field recordings and soft but sonically detailed textures, the emotive electronica of earlier releases has been ditched in favour of delicate, multi-layered soundscapes. These are experiments in repetition and time, compelling, mournful and almost elegiac in tone. That said, KMRU productions often unfurl upon a close listen, revealing layers of brightness that previously went undetected.
Pulling together an hour of ambient and drone, this mix goes some distance towards exhibiting the full breadth and depth of the KMRU sound.
Mixmag's guide to the best DJ mixes of 2021
KMRU 'DJ Mag Fresh Kicks'
KMRU makes ambient music to get lost in and is one of the leading young artists pushing the sound forward. In this Fresh Kicks mix for DJ Mag, he let's a bunch of unreleased music unfurl alongside contemporaries like Malibu, Emily A. Sprague and Jake Muir. The selection acts as a primer to his vision for ambient as well as other artists in the scene making inventive new music. It's also incredibly relaxing, which we're sure you'll appreciate right now.
From the ferocious hardcore punk of Nicolas Cage Fighter to the ultra-meditative ambient of KMRU, discover new music from right across the pop spectrum
The Kenyan musician Joseph Kamaru was little known before 2020, but after a glorious glut of seven full-length releases and various other one-offs arriving on streaming services over the past year, he is now regarded as one of the leading ambient artists working today. Using field recordings of his surroundings alongside software, instrumentation and samples, there are shades of Philip Jeck, William Basinski and Sarah Davachi to his reverberant, richly detailed washes of abstract expressionist sound. BBT
Kenyan artist KMRU records a deep, transportive mix of ambient electronics, rustling beats and found sounds for the Fresh Kicks series.
KMRU - Eotrax Mix Series #11Nairobi-based sound artist and experimental ambient musician, KMRU, had a fantastic year behind him. His brilliant album 'Peel' got recognition from peers, press, and fans around the world. KMRU closes down 2020 with this evocative ambient mix exclusive for the Eotrax record label and its podcast series.
-Whether offering solace, transport, or simple numbness, these albums perfectly suited a year of lockdown-
By Philip Sherburne
Joseph Kamaru’s Peel appears at first like a series of impenetrable matte surfaces, but the more time you spend with these tracks, the more they soften and open up—like monoliths that, up close, turn out to be made entirely of moss. The Kenyan sound artist put out at least a dozen releases this year, including an hour-long installation piece made of environmental recordings and a gorgeous set of wistful synthesizer etudes, but Peel feels like his most important statement to date. Abstracted field recordings and drawn-out tones pile up in onionskin layers of rustle and drone; seemingly static, monochrome expanses gradually reveal rapid-fire rhythmic movements, as well as slower, steadier cycles. The longer these pieces go on, the more you begin hearing things that you’re not sure are really there, as the sounds of birdsong, moving water, and thunder dissolve into an expansive, all-encompassing shimmer.
Peel + opaquer
Editions Mego + Dagoretti Records
It's fitting that 2020 would produce a breakout star from the realms of ambient and field recording. Kenyan artist Joseph Kamaru, AKA KMRU, had been bubbling up already, but in 2020 he seemed to be everywhere, dropping tracks on his Bandcamp, appearing on the excellent Physically Sick 3, and releasing these two stunning LPs (along with a cassette, Jar) that show the incredible breadth of his sound. Appearing on esteemed avant-garde outlet Editions Mego, Peel is a silky abyss of droning soundscapes and spectral field recordings. Opaquer is its adventurous counterpart, with tracks like "Lost Ones" and "Canthenta" having more in common with bass-heavy experimental music than anything you'd typically call ambient. Together, they introduced many of us to an artist whose music is as powerful as it is subtle.
By Bandcamp Daily Staff ·
Joseph Kamaru, who releases lush compositions as KMRU,
hails from the bustling experimental scene of Nairobi, Kenya, but he
seems more at home in the quietude of its neighboring towns. “I can be
connected and in-touch with my environment, which leads me to listening
more,” he said of his current homebase in Rongai, a dozen kilometers from the city limits. Peel embodies that deep listening. Created in 48 hours,
the record exudes the warm expanse of ambient composers like Daniel
Lanois while incorporating field recordings from nature, building to
dream-like textures. With little notion of traditional meter or pacing, Peel finds cushiony comfort in the slow, liminal solitude that has defined this strange year.
Jar is an album of small differences, or as Joseph Kamaru puts it on the opening track, a “degree of change.” The Kenyan sound designer has had a prolific 2020, releasing Peel in July and Jar only two months later. Kamaru’s KMRU project is one interested in capturing the world through field recordings, and Jar carries that even further beyond Peel’s falling footsteps. “Life at ouri” and “behind there” feature the sounds of children, their faded shouts bridging the gap between playful and peaceful. Elsewhere, Jar feels like a continuation and expansion of the ideas he set into motion on Peel—”space of uncertainty” builds upon his base layer of hiss with chiming, cascading synths, remarkably bright compared to his previous record’s glacial soundscapes. Jar seems to suggest that Kamaru is just as capable of churning out intricate, accelerating melodies as he is at subtly shuffling shifts.
Shrouded in KMRU’s undulating soundscapes lies a beautiful luminescence that radiates throughout. Sometimes the feeling is overwhelming, summoning the kinds of emotions that make you suddenly inhale sharply, catching yourself before it all comes tumbling out. Elsewhere, it conjures a kind of aural stillness equivalent to a misty, desolate lake’s surface at sunrise.
That this depth of work was present across all of KMRU’s releases this year makes Peel all the more impressive still, with ten EPs and digital compositions, in addition to three full length albums, released in the past twelve months alone. (In addition to Peel, his cassette album Jar – “a journey through the dust of time” that includes the breathtaking ‘time of day’ – also deserves special mention.)
Breaking through its own clouds, Peel’s opener, ‘Why Are You Here’ envelops in a delicately lapping synthesizer across 15-sweeping minutes. And from that moment on, you are in a KMRU’s capable hands, inhabiting a delicate world of his creation. Soon, the fugue giving way to waves of piano, to rainfall, to the ebb and flow of sound as it exists in his imagination. In 2020, finding solace through teleportive soundscapes felt as important as ever. Thanks to KMRU, we were able to do so. – GH
KMRU, PeelIn a year filled with short and painful jolts of information, I found myself reaching for records with a different sense of time. On Peel, Nairobi-based producer Joseph Kamaru, who records as KMRU, creates oscillating ambient music of unhurried change. Individual tracks evoke otherworldly imagery personal to each listener, like faces seen in clouds — a suspended boulder straining against a steel cable as it rocks back and forth, say, or a sleeping cyborg's mechanical respiration. Taken as a 75-minute whole, Peel is an invitation to stretch out, slow down, and experience the present, the only moment we'll ever have. —Mark Richardson
BONUS: KMRU ~ Peel (Mego)
“Why are you here.” Depending on the context, this could be an innocuous question or an insidious threat. Peel begins with a track of this title, establishing an ambiguity that carries through the entire album. Recorded in one session immediately after returning to Nairobi from Montreal, Peel transforms field-recordings made on that trip, conjuring the traveler’s disorientation and curiosity. Long loops of sub-bass and chirping high frequencies patiently unfold across the double LP, a hint of unease only partially masked by the lull of the droning tones. Peel reaches a fever pitch on “Klang,” about midway through, but it is the culminating eponymous track that is the true climax. Just one of several excellent, and distinct, releases by KMRU this year alone, he is a young artist to watch. (Joseph Sannicandro)
12) KMRU ~ Peel (Editions Mego)
Judging from his Bandcamp page, Kenyan musician Joseph Kamaru has had a busy year. However, this full-length record was a leap forward, offering valuable breathing space to his organic ambient productions. The six tracks focus on ebbing loops of sound, with enough approach and retreat to stop from being drones. Initially, KMRU’s sound seems cleanly minimal; but as the long tracks swallow us up, we find hidden textures and details waiting for our senses to attune. Though otherworldly, this music has roots in field recording, and KMRU is inspired by snapshots of the places around him. Clocking in at an hour and a quarter, the album gives him scope to patiently develop his sonic negatives. Though it may refer to a metro station in Montreal, the title also invites the listener to peel back the layers and hear what’s underneath. (Samuel Rogers)
By Miles Bowe · December 04, 2020
Kenyan sound artist Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, has had an incredible and prolific 2020, releasing more than one of the year’s best ambient albums. Many of these are massive—single-track epics stretching nearly an hour; the sprawling soundscapes of his jaw-dropping Editions Mego debut Peel—but he’s just as skilled at composing miniatures like this brief, beguiling EP. Lasting three tracks and barely breaking 10 minutes, drawing water already feels like an essential release in KMRU’s growing discography. Two of these pieces form bookends of dreamy slow-motion synths, with the opening title track merging beautifully with a distant field recording of children playing. Placed between them is the remarkable “matching teal surfaces,” which quickens the pace with a swirling synth-loop that I could listen to for hours. Speaking of which, drawing water is only a short release if you play it once—something that’s proven impossible every time I listen. It’s a release that feels designed for repeat listens, like one of Kamaru’s sound installations, where these perfect 10 minutes can stretch and fill a room for hours
47 artists from around the world share playlists of their favourite tracks of 2020
KMRU2020 has been quite spontaneous and improvised. I wonder how the year would sound in one piece. Nonetheless, these are the 10 tracks/albums/artists that resonated with me this year. All the tracks are a selection from albums that have been important to me, both inspiring and fully expressed records by the artist! There is a deep pour of emotion in every track, a deep feeling that the artists expressed to the world despite these unrest times. I highly recommend to listening to the full records!
KMRU is a sound artist from Nairobi. Listen to his music on Bandcamp