Kenyan composer and performer based between Maryland, New York and Nairobi, Nyokabi Kariūki has released a new EP titled peace places: kenyan memories. The project was written during the pandemic and inspired by the longing for her home in Kenya and the people in it, melding field recordings and experimental, ambient textures.
It doesn’t just feature the sounds and places of her homeland, but also people close to her. It feels vivid in its re-imagination of these people and places. “When I see a color, I hear a certain sound,” says Kariūki.
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“A Walk Through My Cũcũ’s Farm” (with Cũcũ meaning “grandmother” in the language of Kikuyu) came from Nyokabi visiting her grandmother on Christmas Day in 2020. “It felt like a really precious moment, with the pandemic spotlighting the vulnerability of our grandparents,” explains Kariūki. “I am seeing the same things but not in the same way anymore.”
You can get a sense of the activity on the farm and how life might be, while also contrasting field recordings with soft ambient sounds. That same idea comes into play with bells and soft voices on “Ngurumo, or Feeding Goats Mangoes.” “Naila’s Peace Place” is one final calming soundbath of bells, swirling pads and distant vocal chants.
This is a project that you really need to listen to intently. The moments can be fleeting and delicate, but that is also a key part of the human experience. Immerse yourself in the sounds of Nyokabi Kariūki heritage with this project and get your copy here.