Music

Moken Creates a Form of Avant-Afropop on "Machine Man" (premiere)

Photo courtesy of the artist

Idiosyncratic troubadour Moken returns with a story from his life as only he can tell it in the new video for "Machine Man".

"I became a machine… but with the heart of a human being." So begins Moken's lament on the new, extended version of "Machine Man" released in advance of upcoming album Missing Chapters. In its video, the ever-animated singer-songwriter moves his body in dramatic contrast to the cracked concrete and bare trees that serve as his backdrop as he rolls, sings, and moves all over Detroit.

The Motor City is at the heart of Cameroon-born artist Moken Nunga's emotional production. "The video narrates the complete story of my tough school life in Detroit, Michigan," he explains. "The high point was when my car broke down at Joy Road; I had to walk for miles going back to school." As Moken walks, past brick buildings, layers of graffiti, and railroad tracks, the struggle is palpable in everything from his body language to the shots of chain-link fences and cold, open skies.

So is the warmth, infectious in everything Moken performs, even as he sings of his troubles. Alternating between feelings - warbling and crooning, fun and melancholy - is easily Moken's signature style, and the result is something unique to him. "Machine Man" exemplifies this, showing a pained Moken drag his bags and guitar down an empty sidewalk before breaking into joyous dance.

Adding to the eventual mirth is the fact that Moken is more in control now than ever before. "Now," he says, reflecting on the changes between past work and that of the very near future, "I tell the complete story because I am my own producer and have creative freedom."

It's a freedom that lets Moken's work be everything it needs to be. With engaging storytelling, evocative visual scenes, and lithe melody, there is an energetic flow to "Machine Man" that makes it an adventure. Yet again, an exciting piece for the brilliantly unpredictable repertoire of the utterly unparalleled Moken.

Missing Chapters releases on 8 August 2019, via MoodSwing Records.

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