Inspired in part by Jean Baudrillard’s 1981 classic Simulacra and Simulation.
Aho Ssan, the musical moniker for Paris-based artist Désiré Niamké, plunges us into a hyperreal onslaught of cacophonous noise, cinematic montage and 3D animation with Intro, the seismic opening to his debut album, Simulacrum.
The album draws inspiration from French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, its’ title referring to his 1981 classic Simulacra and Simulation. Over the course of the record Aho Ssan applies Baudrillard’s ideas about the structures of signs, symbols, copies and references that make up our understanding of reality to his own lived experience growing up Black in Paris’s suburbs.
Specifically, Simulacrum interrogates societal facades of inclusivity and equality, emphasising how much they diverge from Niamké’s experiences growing up amidst racism and discrimination in France.
He also blends notions of synthesis and simulation in the inclusion of The Mensah Imaginary Band, which Niamké created using Max/MSP. The synthesised ensemble takes its name from Niamké’s grandfather, Mensah Anthony, a trumpet who in the 1950 led a Ghanaian band across the Ivory Coast and acted as a conductor at the country’s famed Abissa Festival.
Having never met his grandfather and not having any access to recordings of his music, nor any more information about his musical career, Niamké imagines the music of his heritage. In an act of artistic speculation, he simulates the sounds of his ancestors, weaving them in to his compositions in a synthetic act of collaboration.