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With their slow-stepping, spacious urban dubscapes, Space Afrika harnesses ambient, Detroit techno and shades of early nineties Sheffield with a fresh and open approach to composition — this is dub techno stripped-down, sealed in a time capsule and sent back from the near future. Friends for almost two decades, the two Joshua’s formed Space Afrika after years of listening to music together, sequestered by harsh Northern winters. Heavily inspired by the industrial architecture of Northwest England and notions of travel, their sonic framework evokes images of rust and disintegrating concrete, and sensations of movement and redemption — exuding a distorted analogue soul offering escape into their overcast skies.
Their releases Above The Concrete/Below The Concrete (2014) and Somewhere Decent To Live (2018) were sparse, spacious yet intimate electronic abstractions, partly inspired by their observations of industrial landscapes and experiences of life in the North of England. Purveyors of unearthed gems, their radio shows on NTS Radio display a breadth of curiosities in experimental and ambient music.
In 2020, Space Afrika released their most emotionally charged project to date, hybtwibt? (Have You Been Through What I’ve Been Through?), first recorded for broadcast on NTS Radio before being edited down to a half-hour collage and released a few days later in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. As Black Lives Matter protests were gathering momentum across the U.S. and UK, the Manchester duo’s self-released mixtape captures the unrest with intercutting fragments of their own unreleased work. Described as a “dreamlike tapestry”, and hailed by Pitchfork and Bandcamp as one of the best ambient albums of 2020, sales of the mixtape continue to raise funds for Black Minds Matter UK and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in support of the fight for racial equality.
Over the last two years, the duo have also been collaborating with the photographer, filmmaker and poet Tibyan Mahawah Sanoh. Together, the three of them created a new short film, Untitled (To Describe You), an abstract portrayal of what it means to be a young Black person in modern Britain. In January 2021, they announced their signing to Dais Records.
Tibyan Mahawah Sanoh is a Manchester, visual artist, poet and director. Born to a German mother and Sierra Leonean father, she’s always been absorbed by her ancestry panning between the interiority with exteriority within intimate family relationships. Casting only those with who she’s developed a bond, her work is organic and personal, whether she’s shooting in council estate tower blocks or on the vibrating streets of Accra, Ghana. Often working with musicians, she’s collaborated with NTS residents Kelsey Lu and Space Afrika for boundary-pushing audio-visual projects, which have been showcased in London’s Tate Modern, CTM Festival in Berlin and the Strelka Institute in Moscow. In Manchester, she’s hosted a group exhibition, focusing on the experiences of the city’s POC youth and most recently, collaborated with Black Minds Matter, with her work earning recognition from The Wire, Vice and Dazed.
Isaiah Hull, 23, is a noir maker from Old Trafford. His early years of poetry are founded in Young Identity, a pivotal combined-arts charity, which he joined in 2010. His career has taken him across the UK, performing alongside Kae Tempest, Saul Williams, opening ahead of Skepta as well as working internationally with Shirley May.