Creating immersive environments that tell stories using music is second nature to London-based sound artist Peter Adjaye. He’s used his skills as a DJ-producer, musicologist, and composer to collaborate on a wide range of interdisciplinary projects—including some with his architect brother, Sir David, such as their 2016 album Dialogues, which explores the connection between music and architecture.
England’s extensive lockdowns haven’t stopped Adjaye from honing his craft. Last spring, he started streaming a series of DJ sets focused on post-colonial African music pioneers on British record label The Vinyl Factory’s YouTube channel. His soundscape “Ceremonies Within,” created for Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola’s traveling exhibition “A Countervailing Theory,” will be on view next week (through May 30) at Denmark’s Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, after wrapping up a stint at London’s Barbican Art Gallery. And in May, a three-part outdoor audio artwork by Adjaye will debut at London’s Chiswick House and Gardens, while a sound collaboration with artist Adelaide Damoah will feature in “A History Untold,” a group show at London’s Signature African Art gallery, on view from May 20 to June 19, focused on highlighting Black cultural figures and events that are missing from school curricula in the United Kingdom.
Adjaye put together a playlist of affecting songs for us that reveals the music he’s been listening to during the pandemic, as well as the emotions he’s experienced as a result of the Movement for Black Lives, “especially in terms of inclusivity, erased stories from history, [and] belonging and acceptance in a world without borders,” he says. While he feels each track is fundamental, a few stand out. Highlights include the late Grammy Award–winning artist Yusef Lateef’s “The Love Theme from Spartacus (Remastered),” a deep investigation into eastern sounds and contemporary jazz, and “Mouhamadou Bamba,” by Orchestra Baobab, a group from Senegal whose incredible sound is a “melting pot of collective diasporic cultures, mixed with indigenous West African music, [that] creates something entirely new,” Adjaye says. He’s also partial to “Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu,” by the late Ghanaian highlife singer K. Frimpong. “It’s a seminal composition of contemporary Ghanian music at one of its highest points of musical creativity,” he says.
Intended to be enjoyed from start to finish, the playlist offers both an educational and mind-expanding experience. “I hope that people actively listen to the tracks while doing nothing else,” Adjaye says, “and appreciate these songs on an entirely spiritual level.”
“Love Theme From Spartacus (Remastered),” Yusef Lateef
“Universal Mother,” Don Cherry
“Jalikunda,” Sura Susso
“The Look Of Love,” Dorothy Ashby
“La-La Means I Love You,” The Delfonics
“Mouhamadou Bamba,” Orchestra Baobab
“Mazurka Cacodou,” Eddy Louiss, Steve Forward
“I Need More,” Pat Thomas, Marijata
“Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu,” K. Frimpong
“Paulette,” Balla Et Ses Balladins
“Ja Funmi,” King Sunny Ade
“Change the World,” Solat
“Ne Te Fache Pas,” T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo
“Fall in Love,” Slum Village
“Politely,” Tony Allen
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