Hurrian Cult Legacy: music

An image divided in two, one side with a black spiral staircase, the other with a grey spiral staircase, curling like snail shells with a light blue border.

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Hazy dreamscapes blur into head-nodding boom bap, decolonial feminist remixes meet philosophically dense rap flows, and reverberating bass lines fuse with nomadic folk tunes that have circulated between now geographically disparate land masses.

Mastered by Willie Green of Brooklyn’s Greenhouse Recording Co., the album is the first release from Hurrian Cult Legacy who also produces sound art under the moniker Kin. She’s currently one of four ‘Sound Pioneers’ supported by Yorkshire Women’s Sound Network and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with a residency at the University of Hull’s surround-sound and ambisonic studio planned for 2021.

The album’s treatment of recorded sound, samples and melodic references is as conceptually rigorous as its lyrical content with feature verses from her partner of 15 years, Nobull (of Newcastle upon Tyne hip hop groups Verbal Terrorists and Lucid Giants) who draws upon ideas from Deleuze – ‘as the AI combines with the biometrics, machines driving machines into a dialectic, I’m anti-Oedipus, see that the greed’s deceiving us’ – to Susan Sontag – ‘can you freeze a moment and own it, in what sense, 360 degrees it’s locked yet, if deemed cyclical then what’s next?

Combining multi-instrumentalism, improvisation and the socio-aesthetics of remix culture, Hurrian Cult Legacy plays flute, piano, hurdy-gurdy and guitar to then sample and de-construct, in line with her ongoing artistic interest in self-erasure, disappearance and impermanence.  The re-wiring of assumed fixed mediums (recording, writing) are revealed to be transient, flexible and subject to the decay of time.  

The album name signals back to what is thought to be the oldest surviving example of notated music, located in present-day Syria. From highlighting the significance of these inscribed clay tablets in cuneiform script, to recurring references to Mesopotamia (a historical region covering parts of Iraq and eastern Syria, and that etymologically stems from the meaning ‘land between rivers’ or mesos, ‘middle’ and potamos, ‘river’), the album serves as a reminder to contemporary Britain what it owes to cultural and artistic expression in the Middle East and Western Asia, and a historical ego-check to the Western-biased constructions of superiority, progress and originality.

This underpinning goes on to shape the album’s critique of linear time, its embracing of liminality and relationships that transcend borders, and how music and sound can be used as resistance against the divisionary tactics of racism, sexism and socio-economic oppression.

At its core, Hurrian Cult Legacy is about resisting island mentality, both in terms of the individual self and of nationalistic tendencies, and finding alternatives to ‘us’ and ‘them’ narratives that use othering to weaken international solidarity against abuses of power. On the peripheries, meandering improvisations and pulsating dance rhythms branch out into estuaries of genre-bending connections and cultural exchanges.

Album release date: 6 May 2021

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In the media

Read the review by author Macon Holt in passive/aggressive magazine

“A simmering conglomeration of references and re-imaginings that captures something of the forlorn hope that may be the only thing keeping many in Britain afloat. There is a determination on this record to rearrange many of the historical narratives that justify so much of the isolating violence taking place on that island. But Hurrian Cult Legacy knows it can only work if this project is performed collectively. So, the record is perhaps best understood as an invitation to an act of recomposition by way of an opening contribution.”