Every Friday moon, the basement of The Mall in Westlands is transformed from plain unpainted walls & pipes to an underground watering hole for niche electronic and alternative music connoisseurs and artists titled ‘The Mist’.
The Mist is a weekly basement rave providing artists with a platform to host experimental sets from all spectrums of the electronic sub-genre: house, techno, future beats, drum & bass, ambient, jazz electronic, glitch, jungle, afro-tech…the list is inexhaustible, but you can read the full comprehensive list of electronic music genres and sub-genres here.
Friday the 13th of January was a particularly auspicious night, seeing as it was the first Mist event of 2023, and what better way to launch a brand spanking new year than with the dreamy ambient textures of KMRU and Nyokabi Kariuki, as well as the global jungle and bass sounds of Berlin-based DJ and Oroko Radio founder, Kikelomo.
PHOTOS: Leslie Burugu
“I’m kinda getting the Savannah, maybe the monsoon.”
Someone next to me muses as KMRU begins his atmospheric set. The bass reverberated heavily through the thick walls of the basement of The Mall, like an acoustic container. Frequencies trapped in a space.
“Do Kenyans even understand the ambient?”
Someone asks. “Do they not look like they understand?” someone else responds, pointing his mouth towards the people standing by the wall.
Listening is understanding.
Unlike your typical Nairobi Friday night gig
Ambient music in its structureless form, requires one to listen. I guess you could dance to it if your imagination is wild enough and your mind is open enough, but most people sat down or just stood by the wall - listening.
“Naskia kama niko Kilifi”
Someone says about what KMRU’s set evoked in them. Birds chirping in the baobab trees of Bofa. The beating of their wings distorted, spliced and pitch shifted. The susurrus of leaves. A cinematic experience.
Nyokabi Kariuki’s set begins on a high note.
Literally. She sings a single perfect-pitched note. It quickly grabs everyone’s attention and takes us away from our wandering minds, back into the present moment. Did you know that she’s classically trained?
Soft whispers emerge out of the sound system.
The thick-walled acoustics of the space make it difficult to make out exactly what she’s saying but she makes it work. “My heart bububus and then slows down and then sshhhhsss,” I eavesdrop on someone describing the range of emotions they experience listening to Nyokabi’s live set.
The sound of trickling water slowly enters our ear-shot,
You’d think it's leaky pipes but it's actually the textural accompaniment. More bird noises. The sound swells in the room, her voices layer on top of each other creating a heavenly soundscape.
A choir of Nyokabis.
After the calm etherealness of KMRU and Nyokabi Kariuki’s sets
It takes a moment for our bodies to warm up to the high octane tracks curated by Kikelomo. But not for long, everyone is eager to dance.
The dance floor slowly fills up to the brim as the jungle grooves and house remixes make their way into people’s bloodstreams. It’s a real Friday night party now.