Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

An Ocean of Atoms: Lord Spikeheart’s Baker’s Dozen

The experimental metal master guides Alex Rigotti through his thirteen favourite albums that explore heaviness, spirituality and love, and that shaped both him and his debut solo album The Adept

Photo by Ronald Dick

“Do you know that feeling, like you’re falling down into a hole and there’s nothing to catch you?” Lord Spikeheart asks tQ. “I love music where you can picture that feeling, and every thought disappears immediately. It’s audio overload. It could even alter your state of consciousness. It’s a feeling you’ve forgotten about, but you have been carrying all your life.”

The search for this feeling has become the life mission of the Nairobi-based musician. You’d be forgiven for thinking that what he’s describing is freedom or liberation, but actually it’s heaviness. Lord Spikeheart is in search of the “heaviest music in Africa,” and after years toiling in the Kenyan underground as part of The Seeds Of Datura and Duma (Subpop, Nyege Nyege), he’s now starting his own label Haekalu (‘temple’ in Swahili).

Starting up Haekalu has been no easy ride for Lord Spikeheart (real name Martin Kanja). He estimates it’s taken him six attempts to even begin. And though he’s been grafting for years as a musician, it’s only now that Kanja is in a position to release his debut solo album, The Adept: “It’s been my life’s mission, my life’s work to reach this point. For me, it’s a dream come true.”

It may come as no surprise that Lord Spikeheart’s Baker’s Dozen reflects albums that “really put the fire in my bones and got my soul going”. But beyond the respective qualities of each album, Lord Spikeheart’s choices as a whole provide a vivid portrayal of family, friendship and love. It contains stories about his mother, his father, and the friends who would pirate CDs for him and host metal parties.

There are also stories about his grandmother, Muthoni wa Kirima; The Adept is a dedication to “how pure, kind and clean her vision and mission was”. She was a pivotal figure in the Mau Mau rebellion, an uprising against the British colonial government from 1952 to 1960. She became the only female fighter to achieve the rank of field marshal thanks to her intelligence, shooting abilities, medicinal knowledge and fearlessness. “She and her crew are the ones who fought for independence, physically. Basically, it is my grandma and the Mau Mau who put the Kenyattas into power. They’re kingmakers. They made it possible for Kenya to have independence because of how much pressure they put onto the British colonial masters.” She passed away last September, which brought a renewed definition of heaviness for Lord Spikeheart: “It was really heavy for me because I never saw her enough to say farewell.

“Now that I’ve grown up and I really notice what’s happening in the world, there’s different places where people are going through the same things my grandma had to fight and face before,” Lord Spikeheart adds. “So for me, [The Adept] was to show we’re together; it’s all about love and being kind and free. You need to stand up and fight for your justice and rights as humans.”

Lord Spikeheart’s debut solo album The Adept is released on 19 April via Haekalu Records. To begin reading his Baker’s Dozen, click the image below

First Record

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