Record Review: Nickodemus – Moon People (2012)

Nickodemus continues his journey into global fusion, this time drifting in nightly plains to come up with more than a few listeners’ delights

Nickodemus Moon People

Genre: Global beat /Downtempo

Region: New York City

Artists’ Website: Nickodemus

Label: ESL Music

For many in the global beat/downtempo scene, Nickodemus is a household figure. Having spent a lifetime Djing, his first major breakthrough occured when he became a resident DJ of the Giant Step & Organic Groove underground parties in NYC back in 1996. A couple of years later he started the ‘Turntables on the Hudson’ sessions with an exhaustive list of collaborations, which still go on Nickodemusevery first Friday at Cielo in NYC and different locations in Brooklyn as well as other places internationally (Turntables on the Nile, Thames etc.).

In 1999 he founded hsi own label Rhythm Love to promote his own recording and the ‘Turntables on the Hudson’ compilations (the last one ‘Vol.8’ came out in 2011). Nickodemus gradually evolved his own style of spontaneous DJing with live singers and musicians. With a heavy record collection and an extensive network of collaborating musicians in many parts of the world he has been recording local artists with his portable studio, providing the groundwork for his albums.

‘Moon People’ is the third record of Nickodemus after ‘Endangered Species’ (2005) and ‘Sun People’ (2009) and while it comes with no major departures from his earlier productions, the atmospheres are more nightly with a more pronounced synth-based electronic sound. As Nickodemus explained: “Sun People had a live organic daytime party sound while ‘Moon People’ is the deeper electronic side of my music. It’s dedicated to the nocturnal people who work, create, party and operate while the rest of the world is asleep, with hints of playfulness and sunshine.”

There are some notable surges of high-level songwriting throughout the album but that does not hold for every single tune. Obviously, album’s starter ‘Under The Volcano’, a collaboration with Latin electro newcomers Navegante is one of the album’s strongest moments that sets the stage for nocturnal soundscapes (there is also a more upbeat remix version by Jose Marquez later in the album). The album’s title track continues in the same direction albeit featuring hip-hop vocals and arabic melodies on top.

There are more highlights like ‘Alkebulan’ which features a beat-propelled African blues riff, reminiscent of Ali Farka Toure and other Saharan rebels, flirting with afrobeat and with hip-hop breakbeat ‘Grandfather’ Afrika Bambaataa on the mic. Since some of us in Freegan Kolektiva are islanders we like ‘Peaceful Island Life’, which features an utterly electronic sound and the soulful, sensual vocals of Kathrin deBoer (of London-based electro/soul three-piece Belleruche).

‘Alruccabah’ is maybe the most dugutal-sounding track featured in Nickodemus’ albums with retro electro astro-bleeps while ‘Mirage’ which features Kissey Asplund bares a Bonobo feel (of ‘Black Sands’ era). The last track is an ode to the Balkan peninsula with sepherd Nickodemusmelodies, clarinet, brass, dulcimer not unlike a beat-driven version of bands like Taraf De Haidouks.

In his new album, ‘Moon People’, Nickodemus continues his ethno mash-ups he is long known for, drawing influences from all over the world as mixed with club music (as well as hip hop, soul etc.). With more then a handful of captivating songs, the diversity of his sound is transmuting in nightly shades; thus a listen to this album is both enjoyable and revealing.

Having spent countless long nights playing his music in different countries, Nickodemus is a vocal supporter of cross-cultural interaction: “I still feel people like to stick to their comfort zones in music, language and style a bit, but I see parties as a place where we can break down the walls between us with music and dance. That’s what I’m aiming for when I spin!”


Check other global sounds at Freegan Kolektiva:

  1. AUditors DOmination – Palace of Light (2012, Timewarp music)
  2. The Spy From Cairo – Arabadub (2012, Wonderwheel Recordings)
  3. Jef Stott – Arcana (2012, Six Degrees Records)
  4. Celt Islam – Baghdad (2012, Ajnavision records)
  5. Novalima – Karimba (2012, ESL Music)

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