Postcards from Vienna – Plus Plus Plus Music

“Music put together for every pair of ears, regardless of their colour, size or shape”

Back in 2014, I met in Athens with Chris Marigold, who was extremely excited about his latest discovery; the new drum and bass wunderkind he’d met at a ‘Vollkontakt’ gig in Vienna. Although the snippets I heard didn’t divulge much, I could tell from the first notes that it would be something out of the ordinary.

Music is a sanctuary and a remedy, a form and a means of escapism from a bleak environment, a portal beyond the four walls of a depressingly mundane reality. The world of music abounds with accounts of young kids channelling their difficulties, hopes and fears into creation and although Kimyan Law’s story is not too dissimilar, it still transcends the standard stereotypes.

Kimyan Law (real name Nico Mpunga) is the son of a Congolese father and an Austrian mother, residing in Vienna, Austria. Unable to visit his homeland and reconnect with his family due to the fierce civil war, which raged for years, Nico found refuge and consolation in music.  At a very young age, he started exploring the endless possibilities of electronic music. From elementary looping software and custom-made instruments made from glass and wood to audio engineering courses, he rapidly evolved to the artist we see today. Although the term is being casually used nowadays often outside a widely accepted context, Nico’s creative persona extends well beyond the generic confines of a music producer; he’s also a painter, graphic designer and video director.

Provided with unrestricted artistic freedom, mentorship and guidance from Blu Mar Ten, Kimyan Law found the natural habitat to realize his musical vision. Fusing his African roots and heritage with contemporary techniques and aesthetics, Kimyan Law has created a refined spectrum of emotions around the equilibrium of the vicious pendulum between sadness and hope; naïve yet sophisticated, uncomfortable but not unsettling, unbearably romantic but not melodramatic. Avoiding as many of the perennial clichés as possible, such as common drum machines and synths, improvising sounds from the most unusual sources (the ‘clap/finger snapping’ has become his signature), his music is an immersive experience through dissonance and tension, ripping the seams of convention and recasting the fragments into new alluring shapes and structures; an imaginary dialogue with the avant-garde and the experimental. When it comes to the soundtrack of a fragile psyche, Kimyan Law never misses a beat.

Kimyan Law’s meteoric rise culminated in a brilliant trilogy of albums for BMT Music, cementing his reputation as one of the most exciting new producers. His debut LP (Coeur Calme’, 2014) reflected on the innocence and naivety of childhood based on an ambiguous cluster of memories. The follow-up (Zawadi’, 2016) revolved around dreaming; the actual imagery and events served to disguise the unconscious wishes, aspirations, desires and worries of the dreamer. The last part of the trilogy (Yonda’, 2019) picked up the narrative from the previous album, signaling a dramatic turn and is Nico’s most profound, contemplative and mature production to date; an impressionistic ‘portrait’ of the ugly, dismal face of human vanity in direct contrast with a craving for internal peace and redemption, featuring the epic ‘Krieg’, Nico’s poignant take on the devastating tragedy of war. The fragility and playfulness of his previous works are overcast by an invisible blanket of anxiety and silent grief, whisper-thin as a heartbeat.

And finally Kimyan Law’s new endeavour is unveiled. If you have been listening and watching closely, the cryptic hints, traces and references from the previous albums have been hidden in plain sight all along; from the artwork and Nico’s face painting to the track titles and the recurring sounds. No bootstrap paradox here, but everything is significant and everything is connected.

PlusPlusPlus Music Logo

His new label Plus Plus Plus Music [ + + + ] is an expansion of the world Kimyan Law has been building since Zawadi’. He has set the stage, the scenery and the underlying atmosphere, enveloping all those aspects and aspirations in a compelling vision of a place (past or present) – so much different from western standards and patronizing banalities – where music is rendered warm and nostalgic, but also instinctive and precise.

This project is split into four EPs that will be released through the year building to the main LP (Emblem of Peace’) in November, which will also be available on gatefold 12” vinyl format. Each EP tells the story of one of four tribes:

Xylo: Tribe of the woodlands

Uaminifu: Tribe of the wetlands

Mandarijn: Tribe of the grasslands

Kumo: Tribe of the coastal deserts

Nico has been kind enough to share with the blog the origin and meaning of the project. More details will be revealed in the near future.

Between the process of finishing ‘Yonda’ and the end of last year, I experimented with new sounds + ways of arranging music + found joy in it. And so, the idea of having an imprint to collate all of these different ideas, but still have them be a thing of their own, appealed to me.

[ + + + ] (pronounced Plus Plus Plus Music) stands for a few things, the most important one being a space for me to be able to express my vision, ideas and stories, future projects, etc. A place for all my works, more abstract projects too. To find + put a name on all of that was very difficult for me. It ended up becoming a sign, an emblem instead. Derived from some elements of my face paint, I wanted it to be recognizable + at the same time able to stand for multiple, diverse works + directions.

The main focus of [ + + + ] are the pieces, themes + stories, + the interdisciplinary approach to making them. But maybe the bottom line is something I write on every record, something I’ll always want my music to stand for:

Music put together for every pair of ears, regardless of their colour, size or shape.”

Although Kimyan Law’s previous works have been mostly within a drum & bass context, there are vignettes and sound designs, which eclipse the conventional templates. The press release describes the new project as “a vast traverse of drum & bass, UK garage and cinematic scoring technique”:

“I’ve never really had the conscious decision to make music strictly within one genre. I’ve got a special love + relationship with drum & bass + always found that it’s super versatile and can be bent and used to experiment with sound in general. I love trying out different patterns, designing sounds and experimenting with arrangement, and hopefully the new releases are going to reflect that”.

I have an obsession with record sleeves. Whether they are hand-made or mass-produced, meticulously arranged or spontaneously created, the cover artwork adds a literal dimension to the music that a digital thumbnail simply cannot replicate. Aesthetic judgment is de facto complicated, but I firmly believe in a strong visual identity, for without it artists and their work might be portrayed differently. Nico reflects on the concept, theme and motifs of the project’s artwork:

“Yes, that’s so relatable; the haptic aspect of a physical record can make it so much more special, unique + intimate. This time, I’ve made the artwork. Painting gives me joy and helps me to express ideas in their own way. For and with my new imprint I also wanted to channel my vision into the visual aspect, to get closer to portraying what’s in my head. That’s where the interdisciplinary approach comes more and more into play. As mentioned before, there are going to be a few surprises coming with the next releases, even more so on the visual side of things… :)”.

So, it’s time we met the communities, their culture, dialects and idiosyncrasies. Can Nico’s music capture a place and time, where they could all reconcile and live again in peace and harmony with each other?

“This is what the new project, the first project appearing on [ + + + ] is going to be about. It’s an expansion of the world I’ve been putting together since ‘Zawadi’. I’m excited to share the new material, new sounds + a few surprises with everyone listening. And watching…”

Emblem of Peace

Emblem of Peace

“In our time, within these lands, there are four tribes.

Those who govern the woodlands

Those who govern the wetlands

Those who govern the grasslands

Those who govern the coastal deserts

Silence + callousness reigns between them, though they once lived in union and peace.

I am a grey child, descendant of two of these tribes, set on a path towards the Great One.”

Xylo EP

Xylo

The first in the series, ‘Xylo EP’ presents the ‘Tribe Of The Woodlands’ and their fierce attitude, their intricate craftsmanship and resourcefulness, which all reflected in the sounds, pace and energy of the EP. More tribes will make themselves known as the year unfolds.

Taproot: The 1st single from Xylo

The sound of the mother-roots, of the great woodland forest, communicating. A perfect + sublime ecosystem, best left untouched”.

Mint Ghost: The 2nd single from Xylo

“If you listen to the forest truthfully, the forest listens to you. Like the wind moving through the tree crowns, the Askari of the woodland tribe move swiftly through the thicket”.

Release Schedule

Taproot (1st single from the Xylo EP): April, 12th

Mint Ghost (2nd single from the Xylo EP): May, 3rd

Xylo EP: May 27th

Emblem of Peace: May 27th (digital), November 25th (limited Vinyl LP)

Uaminifu EP: TBA

Mandarijn EP: TBA

Kumo EP:TBA

Kimyan Law Socials…

Likehttps://www.facebook.com/kimyanlawmusic

Followhttps://twitter.com/@KimyanLaw

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/kimyanlaw

Spotifyhttps://open.spotify.com/artist/4qstV1aoIFSc0eP8imUZQA?si=YgTN7sooTf21GV0kOUhPyg

bandcamphttps://kimyanlaw.bandcamp.com/music

 

Published by GodIsNoLongerADj

What the sleeve notes never tell you and ramblings about all things jungle/drum & bass and modern electronica

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: