Nihiloxica: A Darker Take on Traditional Bugandan Drumming



In the constitutional kingdom of Buganda – located in central Uganda in the heart of East Africa’s Great Lakes region – the people used to hold the drums in higher regards than the king. Drums were the most widely played instrument of the region and were a marker of one’s identity; you could tell a drummer’s clan by how he or she played a specific rhythm. A drum was used in nearly every activity, ceremony, and dance, and drums were played for every birth and funeral. The drums of the Kabaka, the Buganda king, were considered holy. And when women were finally allowed to play drums, it was the sign of a strict patriarchy loosening its grip. The kingdom has since embraced the sound of globalization, but the drums still serve as a sort of beloved mascot of its past.

Nihiloxica, an Afro-techno fusion group via Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Tapes label, celebrates the drum’s special place in Uganda, but with a twist. On their self-titled EP, Nihiloxica (Nii-lox-ee-ca) present indigenous Buganda drum patterns juxtaposed with blossoming techno synths. At first, the mix seems like a quaint showcase – something like a hip-hop artist sampling Johnny Cash as a gimmick rather than color – but these drums and electronic patterns soon grow louder with each other. They fight, bite, and blend into clouds of glitch. Eventually, there are no drums or synths; there is just the sound of frenzy, and suddenly, a Buganda village becomes a Leeds rave.

The result is dark, more human, and wonderful in an otherworldly way.

From Bandcamp:

“A darker take on traditional Bugandan drumming. Comprised of seven percussionists, one kit drummer combined with an analog synth player. Recorded live in single takes at Boutiq Studios in Kampala, Uganda between the 26th and 29th of August 2017.”