With cyberpunk themes and staticky beats, the turntable experimenter waxes ever more melodic with a cast of collaborators including Grifton Forbes-Amos, Cassie Kinoshi, Agaama, Chisara Agor and SlowPitchSound

NikNak looks to dystopian sci-fi stories Blade Runner and the video game Cyberpunk 2077 for inspiration on Ireti. She jumps off from these stories into her own, in which humans and technology are increasingly intertwined. In music, she shows this theme primarily by mixing acoustic instrumentation with her signature staticky beats, lent by musical collaborators Grifton Forbes-Amos, Cassie Kinoshi, Agaama, Chisara Agor and SlowPitchSound. Ireti finds NikNak still focused on the textural exploration that has defined her practice, but she moves in a more melodic direction, using pitch and harmony to illustrate the dystopian world of which she dreams.

Though Ireti tells the story of dystopia, it also presents NikNak’s most delicate and gentle music. Throughout, she crafts lush melodies, weaving them into her vibrating beats and robotic electronics to cultivate a feeling that is both human and alien. These phrases often float and glide through the supernatural atmospheres she writes, colouring them in with vibrant shades driven by her collaborators. Each melody also finds space in different genres, looking to R&B, jazz and ambient to inform their drifting motions. ‘You’ve Never Seen A Miracle’, featuring Kinoshi and Agor, feels smooth and gauzy, melding delicate saxophone with gentle raindrops and laid-back beats, sculpting what feels like the atmosphere of some otherworldly coffee shop; ‘Pandora’s Box’, featuring Agaama, cultivates a similar feeling, building from feathery vocals that coat NikNak’s beats in peach fuzz. 

Elsewhere, tracks like ‘Burning Bright’ veer into a noisier territory, conjuring the chilling feeling of dystopia with crashing, interwoven rhythms. In these moments, during which NikNak creates ghostly noise, her music feels its most immersive. Her patterns shimmer with eeriness, barren like a desert yet coloured in gleaming chrome. There’s a darkness churning within these glossy beats, something lurking and waiting to pounce – the anxiety of dystopia looms, and NikNak captures it and sends it out in mysterious waves.

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today