Home » News » Nok Cultural Ensemble – Tape Percussion

Explosive afro-percussion – channelled through dub signals and free jazz

 

On Tape Percussion, the Nok Cultural Ensemble (NCE) centre diverse Afro-diasporic percussive traditions. These rhythms are expressed through free jazz sensibilities, and glitching beats that unfold on African timelines, extending the futuristic pulse of dub technologies.

Recorded to tape at the legendary Ariwa Studios and presented in our award-winning plugin with a range of in-built FX, these sounds and textures thrum, crackle, and crash with new possibilities for modern tracks and contemporary media scores.

An intuitive, NKS-compatible toolkit, Tape Percussion opens with 5 one-shot jazz kits, and 6 one-shot African percussion presets, spread out across the keyboard. Those worlds then merge with Caribbean rhythms and dub-inspired warps over 8 drum loops and 69 atmospheric scenes. Finally, the NCE unleashes their vision for a melodic, rhythmic future across 13 tonal warped presets.

NCE are a collective of percussion prodigies led by Edward Wakili-Hick — all leading lights playing across different genres underpinning London’s eclectic jazz and beat scenes. Together, they craft a visionary rhythmic continuum that tunes into living traditions stretching back through time to ancient civilisations, and calls in liberated futures through experimental frequencies and propulsive, frenzied textures.

The ensemble’s debut LP, Njhyi, is available to pre-order now via SA Recordings, out September 30th, 2022.

Spitfire Nok Cultural Ensemble - Tape Percussion GUI

KEY FEATURES

  • Recorded to tape at the legendary Ariwa Studios, London
  • Presented in Spitfire Audio’s award-winning dedicated plugin
  • Five sections:
    • FULL KITS (5): Detailed drum hits from five distinctive acoustic and electronic kits
    • KIT LOOPS (8) – Tempo-synced drum loops, stemmed out across the keyboard
    • PERCUSSION (4): A selection of various African and Caribbean percussion instruments
    • ATMOSPHERES (2): Experimental drum loops played live with various kits and percussion
    • TONAL WARPS (13): Melodic, abstract hits and loops, warped and distorted from the original percussion recordings
  • Five controls:
    • Processed Signal –  The dynamics slider allows you to fade into a processed signal featuring bespoke live FX from Ariwa Studios
    • Reverb – Controls the amount of reverb being added. Choose between a bespoke collection of 7 impulse responses, ranging from short studios and rooms to long, cavernous churches and halls
    • Release – Allows you to change the length of the release of a note
    • Tape Saturation – Controls the amount of tape saturation added
    • Attack – Allows you to change the length of the attack of a note
  • NKS compatible
  • ~2.7GB

AFRO-PERCUSSION DUB EXPLOSION

“The music we love today – techno, drill, trap – none of this would exist without dub. With these sounds and this album, I wanted to celebrate that history and approach to sound”.

Edward Wakili-Hick, Nok Cultural Ensemble

NCE’s mission is to celebrate the diversity of global black percussive music styles and the cultures they emerge from. At the heart of this collection are 5 one-shot drum kits pulled from the explosive epicentre of London’s multi-faceted jazz scene. These include high-tuned, low-tuned, open-tone, electronic, and extended-hit kits—all deeply sampled with 3 dynamic layers and 3 round robins. Seven thousand kilometres away, we play through 6 one-shot patches of rarely-sampled African percussion, shakers, and bells—including the Kpanlogo, Ravann, Shekere, and Agogo.

Eight tempo-synced drum loops fuse contemporary jazz with African percussion, Caribbean rhythms, and dub-inspired warps. Each loop stems out on the keyboard, so you can play the full loop on a single key, or deconstruct it key-by-key for dramatic effect.  The drama continues across 69 atmospheric scenes—cinematic loops that reach beyond rhythm, capturing the essential character of each instrument’s sound. Finally, we cut to 13 tonal warps, transforming percussive hits into tuned synths and pads—some dark, some bright, and some searing with chaos. Behind these sounds sits a range of premium FX and a bespoke warp signal processed live at Ariwa Studios by dub titans Mad Professor and Joe Ariwa.

ARIWA STUDIOS

A renowned hub of dub and reggae music, Wakili-Hick worked in both rooms at Ariwa Studios to fuse together analogue and digital elements. He recorded live and straight to tape in Room One – the Mad Professor’s room, with its analogue kit. Those tape takes were then transferred to the digital plane in Room Two, run by Joe Ariwa (the Mad Professor’s son).

In creating these samples and working on the album, NCE drew on the legacy of the ingenious dub rhythmic scientists that changed the face of music – including figures such as the late Lee Scratch Perry. “It’s important to remember that dub is one of the original electronic musics”, Wakili-Hick says. During this project, Wakili-Hick applied his independent learning from African ethnomusicologists to technology. “Over lockdown I was learning more music tech, and saw that on a digital level, there are so many European frameworks in terms of how we think about sound”, he shares.

SA RECORDINGS X SPITFIRE AUDIO

Our Nok Cultural Ensemble collaboration offers two contemporary elements: an intuitive sample library, offering producers and composers the artists’ sound palette and unique instrumentation to facilitate and inspire their own work, and the collective’s debut LP release, Njhyi, a result of extended group improvisations on acoustic and electronic percussion, featuring an exciting line-up of guest appearances. The LP is available to pre-order as both a limited edition vinyl and digital download via the SA Recordings website –set for release September 30th, 2022.

THE NOK CULTURAL ENSEMBLE

The Nok Cultural Ensemble (NCE) was formed in 2017 by Edward Wakili-Hick (Sons of Kemet, Steam Down), with the sample library featuring fellow members Onome Edgeworth (Kokoroko) and Joseph Deenmamode (Mo Kolours).Together, the NCE crafts a visionary rhythmic continuum that tunes into living traditions stretching back through time to ancient civilisations, and calls in liberated futures through experimental frequencies and propulsive, frenzied textures. A modern take on possibly the oldest instrumental formation in human history — the drum/percussion ensemble — the band is rooted in traditional African and Caribbean musical concepts, aesthetics and forms, inspired by the ancient civilisation of Nok, (an advanced civilisation dating back to 500 BC) but drawing particularly on the legacy of cultural ensemble bands from 1960’s West Africa. Situating themselves in this lineage, Nok Cultural Ensemble draws on the heritage of its members from St Kitts and Nigeria to Mauritius and the UK for a contemporary tapestry of black expression.

“We’re looking to those groups and concerts for inspiration, but doing it from our time and experience”, Wakili-Hick shared. “We’reinterpreting that through 808s, electronics, drum machines and more.”

Their unique instrumentation combines Kpanlogo, Ravann, Shekere, Agogo and Drum Kit, along with samplers and drum machines. The group respects and honours their ancestors and traditions, looking to the past whilst also telling their own sonic story growing up in the UK.

 

CHECKOUT THE WALKTHROUGH HERE

Presented by Spitfire Audio in-house composer Cairo St Luce-Sinclair.

www.spitfireaudio.com/shop/a-z/nok-cultural-ensemble-tape-percussion/

Industry News

Moog Announces New Plug-in Effect & End-of-Year Software Specials

Moog Announces New Plug-in Effect & End-of-Year Software Specials

McDSP Updates More V7 Plug-ins

McDSP Updates More V7 Plug-ins

The Sound of Infinity - Orchestral Tools Announces Drones by Alexander Hacke

The Sound of Infinity – Orchestral Tools Announces Drones by Alexander Hacke