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Petite Noir - The King of Anxiety EP

"The King of Anxiety EP"

Release date: 19 January 2015
Petite Noir The King of Anxiety EP 2
28 January 2015, 11:30 Written by Stephen Jenkins
Yannik Ilunga, the man behind The King of Anxiety EP, grew up as a broad-minded listener, citing Blink-182 and Sum 41 as early favourites before later delving into heavy guitar music as well as hip-hop and classic pop. Of his own music, Ilunga says: “it’s like new wave but with an African aesthetic. It’s a cross between both worlds; it’s a worldly thing.”

He's not wrong. Born in Brussels to a Congolese Mother and an Angolan Father, Yannick Ilunga grew up in Cape Town where he harnessed an appreciation – and talent – for music which transcended all geographical and cultural boundaries lain down before him. As Petite Noir, he is on a mission to bring his own genre-spanning brand of music to the masses.

With a few songs having already made the online rounds (such as the twitchy, disturbing, danceable “Disappear” from 2012) Petite Noir has a growing reputation for creating edgy, brooding indie-music with a faintly palpable rooting in the Sub-Saharan musical heritage of his homeland. So unique is Petite Noir from his peers that he has dubbed his music as “noirwave”, his self-styled genre and mantra for the progression of an often ignored music scene in Africa: “I want music to progress. That’s why I started this noirwave thing. I want things to move forward. Some things in Africa a lot of people think are unreachable.”

On his first substantial release, The King of Anxiety EP, Petite Noir reaches out by exposing his unique musical personality, one which is enchantingly fretful in its lyrical darkness yet enjoyably nifty and colourful in its fret-play.

Opening track “Come Inside” invites us into Petite Noir's vibrant/dark world. A doomy drum beat paps uneasily as Ilunga introduces his dolefully deep vocals. “Only you can make me feel the pain”, he sings and you think: “this isn't going to be a happy listen.” But then this soulful guitar hook kicks in and the whole song lifts, beginning on a rise toward a cleansing, cathartic crescendo.

This progressive arch is common on the EP. Leading single “Chess” begins as a fidgety, tentative thing which grows into something sort of epic as a simple guitar hook leads the way into an ensemble of frenetic drums and layered electronics. Ilunga also shows an impressive command of vocal range, swooning from glowering low to honeyed high on demand, notably during the likes of “Shadows” and “The Fall.” The aptly haunting “Til We Ghosts” sees Petite Noir blend his angular post-punk guitar with an percussion section and a soulful vocal turn typical of the subtle African aesthetic he so casually incorporates into his music.

For an EP so thematically beset with the collywobbles, The King of Anxiety is a relatively uplifting listening experience. This is testament to Petite Noir's endeavour – and success – in mixing his own relatively gloomy musical ambitions with the relatively vibrant sound of his musical heritage. The resulting noirwave sound is still in the hazy, nebulous stage of genre formation – but this is to say that it has a lot of potential to grow into something quite spectacular.

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