Troposphere 7 - To Keyi Toko Zonga

LP Edition of 500. Download included. Co-Release with Massachusetts Institute of Contemporary Music

Release Date – April 19th, 2024 – Preorder available – $24

MB Jones and Rey Sapienz first encountered one another in 2018. Jones was living in South Korea and visited Kampala, Uganda with his partner. Before their trip he was surprised to find that the Nyege Nyege label knew of him through his ROK SPY record, which had even led certain label associates to wonder if, because of that project’s presentation, he was an actual secret agent.

Jones stayed for a few days at Villa Nyege, where label co-founder Arlen Dilsizian introduced him to Rey Sapienz. Prompted by a question Jones had about a man in Uganda building rockets in his backyard, Dilsizian had the notion to name the band after a Congolese rocket program, and recording ensued. Plans for Jones to return were dashed by a global pandemic, and thus the pair were forced, like so many, to work remotely. Processing of their initial sessions yielded the Grey Parrots cassette, released in an edition of 100.

For this next album, they wanted something that more closely resembled songs. Jones crafted instrumental tracks and sent them to Sapienz, who handled the vocals and written word. Results were returned to Jones to be wrangled into their final versions. Along the way, a host of guest artists contributed as well. Jones was chuffed to get Otim Alpha on a track, and Northeast underground heads will be pleased as punch with the riotous appearance of Fat Worm of Error’s Tim Sheldon. Among others.

The music draws from disparate cultural touchstones to create its own vernacular. Enticing and unpredictable rhythms abound, punctuated by groovy loops, layers, and conglomerates of mechanical tones and atmospheres. Some songs are full of high frequencies and high energy, some swim in darker psychedelic waters. Some are spastic and crammed with information, some embrace space and breath. The vocals are uniformly excellent.

The elements are mashed up, but it’s a far cry from the stale concept of a “mashup,” where familiar elements get bolted together in a clever manner that makes adults say, “Wow, that’s neat!” The music of Troposphere 7 blends sounds and styles as painters mix pigments to create something magical.

To Keyi Toko Zonga a stunning experience, showcasing a highly sophisticated sense of possibility. Whether or not there will be another Troposphere 7 album remains to be seen and, to a degree, doesn’t matter. What counts is that we have this marvelous LP. Given the creative restlessness of the participants, who knows if they’d want to do it all again anyway. This is art made for the moment it’s in, reveling in the reality it conjures. So be here now, you won’t regret it.

Matt Krefting
Holyoke, MA 2024

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