Lebanese artist Kujo is the creative mind behind one of the only experimental noise/techno labels coming out of the country, Modular Mind. The imprint is described as ‘an exponent of sonic exploration; a byproduct of a lost doctrine. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend’. There’s an air of mystery to Kujo’s work, with only the numbers 01101000 being the running theme throughout, linking everything together. After releasing six records on Modular Mind from Nternal Bserver, Hkkptr, Safa and Mas, Kujo releases his debut EP ‘Post Arab’ – a four-track exploration into the producer’s adventurous sounds. With much still to be revealed about the elusive artist, Kujo talks through some of the key tracks that influence his work
Tool – Wings For Marie + 10’000 Days
It’s difficult to pick one recording from Tool’s collection as their albums are really well conceptualized and isolating the individual tracks reduces their impact. As a band they opened up my perspective about what can be done with a genre, their music is hard to define and the deconstruction of the music, the combination of synthesis and textures with unorthodox progression in what is considered to be “metal music”. Which I believe have had a great influence on what I think can be done with music and how we can survive without fitting a mold.
Shapednoise – The Existence of a Vital Reality
Shapednoise was instrumental in shaping(no pun intended) my perspective and appreciation for more structured noise music, the intensity and heavy texturing as a lead rather than an atmosphere is an emotion I can really relate to and wish to transmit in my own creation as well. Powerful noise that takes over you and makes your body instantly react to it, it’s as honest as it gets, you cannot pretend it is something other than what it is making you feel. it is here and now.
Death – Symbolic
Death’s work has always fascinated me. In sonic terms, they were instrumental in the development of extreme metal which was an emotion I could relate to as an outlet for violent and angry behaviour. But the biggest influential element in Chuck Schuldiner work was his intelligent and critical lyrical content that breaks the metal stereotype of brutality for the sake of brutality, he was also an amazing and kind human being which also breaks the stereotypes of “mean boys making heavy music” he always expressed his love for animals, nature and the bettering of the human condition whilst not compromising on the development of his extreme sound which can be seen as an essential means of expression. I could relate greatly because from the outsider’s perspective extreme music is assumed to be tied to a more negative outlook on things which I was happy to see broken because I felt similar to Chuck in some ways.
Oake – Fuentfes Buch: Dreloi Wechd
Oake inspired confidence in my project, after seeing their live performance I really felt connected to the emotion being transmitted by the project and the hybrid elements of instrumental music which had an organic feel to it. They performed it shamelessly, it was demanding music that required your attention. It felt like the art itself was not taken for granted and that their music comes from a genuine place which is something that I was missing in the current contemporary electronic music spectrum.
Pan Sonic – 7’06”
Pan Sonic are the reference for experimental techno and have really inspired the hybrid approach where you could experiment with rhythmic work and noise turned into huge drones. Similarly to previous projects they definitely have a “fuck off” attitude of doing their work as a statement. One of the projects that managed to break through its niche scene and normalising this art in a broader landscape, not enough can be said on their narrative combination of harsh noise, drones, and techno beats. Mika Vainio (half of Pansonic) performed at the Oslo National Museum in front of an audience that included but wasn’t limited to children. I found that to be very inspiring and validating at the same time for all artists and enthusiasts of unorthodox music. Rest In Peace MV.
ANFS – Blood Trophy
The apocalyptic nature of ANFS has always been inspirational to me. Dirty, gritty and uncompromising distortion really was a relatable texture as a mean of expression. It was in parallel with how I was experiencing my reality. It could be due to my roots and my perspective of where I come from and how I am experiencing the present but the power electronics inspired chaos with oriental influences was absolutely spot on, his works spoke directly to me in a very personal way which definitely influenced my sound.
Endon – Acme Apathy Amok
I discovered Endon after my first gig in Japan in 2015/16 thanks to my friend Saraam/Decascend who is friends with Endon’s Noisemaker/Pedal Designer(M.A.S.F). I bought both their records Mama & Through the Mirror because I was fascinated by how extreme they could push their sound yet still make sense. In the midst of pure chaos you can hear a blues guitar riff come out combined with a black metal/noise vocal screech piercing through then back to ambient drones with shoegaze type of textures, this band brings it all together and it challenges the listener with an extremely confrontational sound that has a hidden beauty and gems once you tune your ears to all the nuances that this music has. I was not into that type of sound earlier and it took some work to get there but it made me appreciate compositions that were not necessarily instantly gratifying which is an element I think that is predominant in my own Kujo project, it’s just not instant gratification. the music is demanding and requires your attention in order to be understood.
Orphx – Blackflag
Orphx’s early 2003 work in Power Electronics , this piece can be described almost as political . It exudes confrontation and controversy, a small reminder that music is not always made for entertainment somehow made me rethink what can be done from my own studio and the power of electronic music as a statement. I love power in this tune.
Marcel Khalife – Movement 3
Coming from Lebanon there isn’t a lot of inspiration coming from music as I believe the region generally offers music as a form of entertainment rather than a form of expression. Marcel Khalife’s work is simply narrative compared to the landscape of pop artists from the region. It is much needed (contemporary) traditional music from the region which I find very inspirational in a time where this is a dying art. Taqasim is based on improvisational works dedicated to the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, which I find to be quite sophisticated since it’s musical composition dedicated to a poet yet it is stripped from any lyrical content.
Oxmo Puccino – L’enfant Seul
Parisian hip hop prodigy Oxmo Puccino released his legendary Opera Puccino album at the age of 24. As opposed to some of the music listed here, this content is grounded and literal . Oxmo uses direct words to describe issues , an extremely talented lyricist and rapper he managed to throw moral punches through his art. Throughout the album he flirts with comedy type of content alongside relatable issues. A reminder of the role and impact that artists have in society.
‘Post Arab’ by Kujo is out now via Modular Mind – buy here.