Kynant Records was founded in 2015 by Richard Akingbehin, a British-Nigerian radio programmer (Refuge Worldwide), music writer and DJ. Originally specialising in deep techno and featuring artists such as Cio D’Or, Terrence Dixon and Donato Dozzy, Kynant has since launched a sub-label Kynant EX which focuses on ambient, dub and experimental electronics.
This terrific 2 LP come from Berlin’s deep space dub techno legend Paul St Hilaire.
The artist that first made his mark as Tikiman, but who reverted to his given birth name following a legal dispute, has been responsible for some of the most noteworthy vocal forays in a genre largely dominated by non-human circuitry.
Best known for his frequent collaborations with Rhythm & Sound, the most dub-inspired of the city’s many technological music masters, St Hilaire’s hypnotic voice has lent their work its greatest share of human intrigue.
For the first time in more than a decade, Paul St. Hilaire (AKA Tikiman) presents a solo album – 100% Tiki.
Over his 30-plus year career, St. Hilaire has become one of dance music’s quietly legendary figures. Born and raised in the Caribbean island Dominica, he moved to Berlin in 1994 and has lent both his voice and his musicianship to some of the most iconic electronic music from the German capital – and beyond. Renowned for his collaborations with Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus (AKA Rhythm & Sound), he has also appeared on records with Deadbeat, Rhauder, Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers and Stereotyp (G-Stone Recordings), amongst others.
However, few know the extent of St. Hilaire’s compositional and technical mastery. From his home studio in Kreuzberg, which includes an extensive collection of vintage hardware, self-built instruments and notebooks scribbled with endless lyrics, he has created a vast archive of material spanning ambient dub, avant-jazz, lush techno and lovers rock.
Tikiman Vol. 1 is a heady, downtempo tour de force of patois metaphors on education, displacement and personal vs. global histories, as is evident on slippy album opener “Bedroom in My Bag”: Mister, mister / Where are you going? / I’m heading for a faraway land / What are you having in the bag in your hand? / Help us to understand / He said, I’ve got my bedroom in my bag.
Overall, the album’s lyrics reflect on life between Berlin and Dominica, specifically St. Hilaire’s hometown of Grand Bay, where he has worked with various musicians famous for the island’s different genres of carnival music. St. Hilaire himself always favoured the island’s more “discrete” music, developing a sonic synergy between two different geographical strains of groove and minimalism, and combining them with foundational Caribbean mixing techniques, which provide the basis for his songwriting and distinct baritone.
Tikiman Vol.1 offers a rare insight into St. Hilaire’s complex artistry, from the eyes-down grooves of “Little Way” and the guitar-heavy digi dancehall experiment “Keep Safe,” to the subtle hypnosis of “Ten to One” and the softly crashing synth waves of closer “Three and a Half”, evoking not only beaches but also coasts and borders.
It’s a fitting expression of both the breadth of St. Hilaire’s work, as well as his history as one of the few black, Berlin-based artists who, despite remaining largely overlooked, has influenced the city’s electronic music culture since its beginnings.