Written by: Izzy
Chances are, unless you’re a big nerd like me who regularly seeks out weird bands in weird genres like cybergrind and power electronics, you’ve probably never heard of this band in question. But for a blossoming noisehead like myself, albums like this are candy to me, meaning I absolutely love it and it’s probably not healthy.
The description-defying Kenyan noise duo Duma have only been with us a short while, officially forming in 2019. Their eponymous first offering to the world is 2020's best industrial-related release at time of writing, an opinion I expect to continue holding through the rest of the year as I am thoroughly impressed by and cannot get enough of the dizzying blend of noise these two employ.
Even amongst the abstract and formless landscape of industrial and noise, Duma are exceptionally hard to properly define. While many other bands are content with a humble wall of cacophonous vibrations, they draw inspiration from numerous different niches floating in the macrocosm of genres. The manic artificial drumming of breakbeat and speedcore, the aggression and ferocity of grindcore and power electronics, the viciously groove-driven stylings of digital hardcore and industrial techno, and the oddly danceable yet indignantly inaccessible sounds of power noise and industrial hardcore, all together resulting in a caustic cocktail I can only confidently call "rhythmic post-industrial in an intense flirtation contest with the concept of cybergrind."
You won’t find the unrelenting ear-shredding intensity of Deathpile or Whitehouse here. Duma are sinisterly subdued, allowing their complexities and rigid grooves to unfold around you, as you feel your body begin to subconsciously move to the track's restless beat, as the song's skin slowly being peeled back. Even though previously I referred to this as both a noise and industrial release, since it borrows heavily from both camps--and the two genres have been historically quite incestuous, constantly borrowing from each other and evolving alongside in their own ways--the feeling of listening to Duma is most closely related to the mechanical clang of industrial music. Gears and cogs creak and shift, metal scrapes against metal, howling screams and gruesome gutturals echo through endless halls of rattling machinery. However, its influences from much more rhythm-oriented places keep it from reaching the cold inhuman sound of most industrial works. It becomes an almost bastardized and mutilated form of the ominous percussive rock groups like Swans and Nine Inch Nails performed during their early years.
In a way, this album feels like the missing link between ½ Mensch and Jane Doe, unearthed decades later. There's a blend of an ominous grinding drive alongside frenzied shrieks and chaotic percussion, the unnatural and synthetic mixed with the carnal and passionate. Duma tends to land somewhere in the middle of music's most alienating genres--industrial and noise--there’s a strange essence of rock buried under its flesh.
A point you’ll likely hear restated by myself in many future reviews is that it’s important to keep an open mind with music and always stay curious, as it’s hard to talk about extraordinarily unfriendly and abrasive compositions, such as Duma, without directly addressing that yes, this kind of music isn’t for everyone, and it’s an exceptionally difficult sound to get used to, but the smoothest entry point in my opinion is through extreme metal and punk, which is why I’m here today. You’re already used to the atonal and grisly, and it’s even possible you’ve already listened to some noise-rooted albums without realizing. Maybe you’re a fan of some relatively popular underground artists using elements of noise like The Body and Full of Hell, or perhaps some less metallic groups like Black Dresses and Machine Girl, or the honorary metal queen herself Lingua Ignota, so if you’re familiar with any of these names and are feeling brave, I highly suggest checking out this release and testing your taste.
Duma - Duma was released Aug. 7th, 2020 from Nyege Nyege Tapes
(Writers epilogue: Sorry for all the name dropping during this review, probably made your head spin if you didn’t recognize most these bands and genres, but I just wanted to say here that I think grounding particularly description-adverse albums like this by using bands you may already know as a reference point is a helpful tool, as it’s rather hard to discuss what this album does without an example of something else that does something similar, appreciate your patience reading this very verbose and music mumbo jumbo filled review. <3)
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