Lenyema Okiteke in residence

3 November - 21 December 2021

Drummer-percussionist and studio musician Lenyema Okiteke (1995, DR Congo) is a composer of experimental music who lives and works in Lubumbashi. A graduate in Latin philosophy from the University of Lubumbashi and a self-taught musician, his music today lies on the border between rhythm and memory. Obsessed with his childhood memories, he inhabits the story of his father, a Tetela trader whose trade was confined to central Congo and who spent all his free time teaching his son Luba percussion. Lenyema's inhabitation of his father's story is not a fight, but an association between his music and his imagination. Lenyema's hypothesis, linked to his father's background as an anthropologist rather than a trader, allows him to compare indigenous post-colonial trading systems with those of the multinationals present in his country today. His use of sound archives allows him to explore complex rhythmic atmospheres based on experimental compositional techniques: Minimalism, Electroacoustics. Imposing in the writing of his compositions, complex rhythmic signatures "7/8, 5/4, 6/8" - which are generally a meeting between the archives and his rhythmic patterns - Lenyema emphasizes the discomfort or discomfort, both in the brain and the body (pulsation), that these signatures can generate. His rhythmic, compositional or performative concerns impose themselves as an 'unconventional' artistic gesture and contradict general cultural stereotypes about the deliberate tendency to limit Congolese cultural heritage music to folklorisation or categorisation.



Through this research and creation project, Lenyema approaches the Luba sound archives present in the AfricaMuseum collections in two ways: firstly as a sociological tool, by confronting his hypotheses - linked to his father's career - with the narratives, fictional or not, that may accompany them, and secondly as a musical object, by exploiting the interactions that may result from the confrontation between his rhythmic preoccupations - centred on polyrhythm, the use of complex rhythms - and the load, both technical and aesthetic, that these sound objects carry. By 'rhythmic traces', an exercise from which Lenyema also projects himself into the colonial past in order to understand the context in which these objects entered the Western space and what were the intentions, natural or otherwise, that accompanied the musicologists in recording the compositions of their subjects, one should understand: an episodic preoccupation with exploring the sociomusicological foundations of the Luba sound archives; foundations considered as a starting point from which a link with an erased or abandoned memory can be established. 


Scientific direction of the residence: Rémy Jadinon (AfricaMuseum).


In collaboration with Q-02.



Creation of the composition Rythmic Traces during the residency:

The musicians: Lenyema Okiteke on drums, Koffi Sadjo Hetsu on keyboards and Daniel Guedegbe on bass guitar and synthesizers. 

Shooting and editing: Bilal Lamarti.

Sound recording: Ludo Engels.


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