Magazine article The New Yorker

Past Customs

Magazine article The New Yorker

Past Customs

Article excerpt

Past Customs

An electronic producer's mission to reroute ambient music.

Chino Amobi conjures metropolises across the globe in his cacophonous instrumentals.

The Nigerian-American producer Chino Amobi grew up in Virginia, the site of the first permanent British settlement, and often speaks of the outsider's gaze with which he approached a state so steeped in history. The experience may explain the thirty-two-year-old's awed fascination with the subject of race in his music. "I would go to school with kids that had the Confederate flag on their backpack," Amobi recently told Jezebel, "but still want to hang out with me because they listened to hip-hop."

Amobi was producing and rapping for fun by age twelve. After he enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University, in 2006, he began releasing patchwork cyberpunk instrumentals under the name Diamond Black Hearted Boy. The project continued through his twenties, largely unnoticed, until he was drawn toward a different sound altogether. In March of last year, Amobi released "Airport Music for Black Folk," a short collection of ambient tracks named after cities--"Malmo," "Berlin," "Rotterdam." Far from the sustained keys and billowing loops of Brian Eno's ambient opus "Music for Airports" (1978), Amobi's transcontinental score has a more explicit take on air travel: buzzy synths swell into prominence like a takeoff, asymmetrical percussion mimics the metallic dance of landing gear unfolding, and talk-box samples evoke the chorus of voices, automated and analog, that echo through terminal halls. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.