Nikakoi – Raise Your Head and Smell The Air, Transfigured Time
Nika Machaidze is a gifted artist, some call him geniosi. He is a filmmaker, notably of superb animation, but above all he is a musician – best known as Erast and – exactly! – as Nikakoi (Russian никако́й
translates as no-one).
first time I met Nika Machaidze in 2000, in Tbilisi. His room was introduced to me as Center of the
Universe – and that's exactly how it looked like. All four walls up to the ceiling, cram-full with books, a few chairs
and a table – on that a reamed PC, running fruity loops. The Internet was slow and tottery but with permanent
connection to England. In one of the walls a small window opened up towards Georgia. There was little reason to
leave this room, the ingredients of which inspired Nika's art.
Nikakoi's music is based on complex, broken or whooshy–creaky rhythms, but he is also fearless in pulling the
straight bass-drum. Obviously that came through the internet - Warp or South-East London, for example.
his melodic patterns and harmonic layers are nonetheless complex– observations perhaps in the small window,
reflections in the glass pane: Georgian soldiers in ballerinas, the most self-confident bride dances, the free
polyphonic singing, Giya Khancheli's comforting movie–melodies. And of course all this is not true at all:
stuttering , broken melodies and shredded layers are equally important for the rhythmic structure, as the space
between kick drum and snare is for harmonies. A ceaseless weaving and interlacing, where one instrument
naturally takes elements of an opposed musical group, turns it around, perpetuates it.
Raise Your Head and Smell The Air is Nikakoi's most recent album. Five new songs, and a remix. Less unrest
here, wider arcs, a serenity, only a slight nervous tremor in the background. Listen to the eponymous song for
example, how it takes its time and how it takes us laughingly on a fourteen-minute journey in an open
train: stick your nose into the wind, sweep the hair out of your face, over and over again. Breathe, smell, feel the
warm summer rain on your skin, here is Europe!
Nikakoi is a vagabond, but a rare one, as he does not hike, but commutes between the worlds. He juggles, he
plays with samples and traditions, he programs, he orchestrates, he takes his seat in front of the grand.
Some may call it IDM, Intelligent Dance Music – but there always resonates an insult: intelligent = too stupid to
deliver proper dance music, not even mentioning pop music. Nothing could be farther from Nikakoi, he is a
master of pop, his musical complexity is never self-indulgent, but pivotal for the song, beauty is always an
argument for him, and poetry anyway – already in the song titles:
Raise your head
Smell the Air
Raise your head and smell the air
How is she there in the fog
I can’t even see my paw
Stars to the left.
And the one who cannot dance to his beats, probably cannot do much else.