An unhinged collaboration between several Nyege Nyege Tapes artists and Welsh musician Elvin Brandhi.
You might detect the influence of other experimental artists, from the fluid structures of Amnesia Scanner's early SoundCloud releases to Lotic's unsettling sound design. But Headroof is unique, partly because of its appealingly brittle textures, courtesy of Omutaba's percussion. Harsh computer noises are mostly absent in favour of earthen thwacks, insectoid clicks and eerie field recordings. The opening track, "Troof," sets the scene with clipped screeches and cawing birds. "Ghott Zillah" cranks up the pressure. Hanging around a simple four-note refrain, the collaborators twist the skeletal sounds around ominous bass stabs. While other Hakuna Kulala artists such as Rey Sapienz retain an unerring focus on the dance floor, this track is built almost entirely on anticipation. The drop threatens but never materialises, making it all the more menacing.
Negative space is critical to Headroof, where melodies or beats are often implied. Take the seven-minute lurcher "Ettiquette Stomp," whose bare-bones production is supplied by various sampled voices and a rhythm created almost entirely out of a single austere kick. The track builds to a crescendo of sorts but in admirably downbeat style, much like the album's final track, "Rey." Its vocalists are coated in syrupy AutoTune and backed by cavernous synths, conjuring modern rap at its most melancholy, though the form is reduced to a vapour. Not everything posseses this fragmentary quality. "Hakim Storm," despite only running to just over a minute, adds flesh to the spartan arrangements, reverberating with bass and a more traditionally rapped verse. "Kaloli" follows, laying a fiendish and at times pulverising groove of gum-like drums. To call it relentless or an onslaught sounds like a criticism, but these clattering sounds can often feel rejuvenating, as if capable of scrubbing you clean.