DJ Travella in a black hat and white shirt against a brown backdrop
Credit: courtesy of the artist

Tanzanian producer DJ Travella sounds like he’s having the time of his life. The 19-year-old artist specializes in singeli, a frenetic style of dance music that sets raves ablaze in his home country. On April 1 he’s releasing his debut album, Mr Mixondo, on Nyege Nyege Tapes, a label based in Kampala, Uganda, that’s played an important role highlighting producers working in this style, including Sisso, Duke, and Jay Mitta. The record is a nonstop romp, and it establishes its catastrophic tenor within the first few seconds of opener “Crazy Beat Music Umeme 1.” As his rhythms pummel listeners at more than 200 beats per minute, he throws in additional bursts of percussion to sustain the explosive atmosphere. From a distance, it’s easy to appreciate the song as the textural monstrosity it is: its layers of synthesized noise culminate in the aural equivalent of an abstract expressionist painting. But it’s even more thrilling if you lean into its groove and actually dance. There are points at which DJ Travella cuts all noise, but even these momentary silences continue the music’s propulsive motion—they feel like flying through your car’s windshield after hitting a wall. Crucial to the success of Mr Mixondo is that it pulls from musical styles from around the world. “FL Beat,” for example, uses familiar vocal samples that place it in the lineage of Chicago footwork, while “London Bandcamp” slows the tempo down with a dembow rhythm but uses stuttering electronics to keep the song energized. DJ Travella knows how absurd his music can be, and he leans into it on “Chapa Bakola Music Bass,” which sounds like being surrounded by a thousand slot machines, and on “Tambasana,” whose chipmunked vocals render everything cartoonish. Outrageous in the best way possible, Mr Mixondo is party music for only the most hard-core.

DJ Travella’s Mr Mixondo is available via Bandcamp.