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Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity Music Album Reviews

Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity Music Album Reviews
The London-based ensemble taps Hot Chip to flesh out the dimensions of its cosmopolitan blend of West African funk and electronic bass music.

One of the oldest drums that we know much about is the West African djembe. It was used for celebration and communication, and its voice carried beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. A large goblet carved from a single piece of wood with a goatskin roped over the head, it produced three distinct sounds in swinging patterns: a low bass, a mid-range tone, and a high, accented slap. The way it anticipated the essential elements of electronic dance and pop music—kick, snare, hat—is as plain as the djembe’s thousand-year westward journey is staggering to contemplate.

The indomitable Ibibio Sound Machine are driven by an instinct for music as humanity’s means of talking to itself across vast times and spaces. A large international ensemble based in London, they blend West African funk and electronic bass music with cosmopolitan aplomb. Their songs can be light and teasing or clashing and commanding, but they always seek the ur-rhythm moving across the ages, finding it all over the place: in the bright, buoyant guitars and horns of the highlife music that became a Nigerian pop sensation in the 1960s; in the blazing Afrobeat heralded by Fela Kuti in the ’70s; in the global disco and R&B divas of the ’80s and their leftfield electro and no-wave foils; in the drum’n’bass of the ’90s and the indie house of the new millennium.

Though Ibibio Sound Machine seem to compress the distances between traditional and modern sounds, each of their four albums has generally been more electronic than the last, a drift that sharply peaks on Electricity. Not only is it their first record working substantially with outside producers, it bears the highly recognizable stamp of Hot Chip, who they brought on board after bonding over Francis Bebey and Giorgio Moroder. Though the album closes with a euphoric synth-pop tribute to the water drumming of Cameroon’s Baka people on “Freedom,” it opens with a Teflon thump and an icicle arpeggio on “Protection From Evil,” accurately announcing itself as Ibibio Sound Machine going all in on sleek, danceable electronic pop.

The holographic filter sweeps and webs of synth might suppress the warm, jazzy qualities of the band’s prior records, but they also heighten the impervious finesse and ferocity of Eno Williams. Her torrents of words deftly flip between English—“big, big grammar,” as she wryly has it on the title track, where a spacious groove seems heated and cooled by its own subterranean power source—and the Ibibio language of southern Nigeria, where she’s from. On “Protection From Evil,” she peppers drops ripped from Vitalic’s French touch heyday with percussive staccato syllables, giving full range to her unique gift for sharpening language to a piercing point.

Such restive, stimulating beginnings give way to a dazzling middle run that begins with “Afo Ken Doko Mien,” a warm bath of rippling song with perfectly chorused vocal samples. It continues through the single “All That You Want,” where Williams manages to wrest control of the Hot Chippiest music imaginable (you know it: a chubby bass bouncing on a candied funk trampoline) through sheer vocal force. And “Wanna See Your Face Again,” the absolute standout, is not the only time Electricity evokes the steely deep-house elegance of Tracey Thorn, Ibibio Sound Machine’s Merge Records labelmate. The contemporary energies thrumming along the music’s surface highlight the deep connections the record effortlessly draws—a series of starbursts connecting William Onyeabor to Gloria Estefan to Loose Joints to Grace Jones to a beat that picked up before recorded history begins, somewhere in West Africa, and never stopped.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity Music Album Reviews Ibibio Sound Machine - Electricity Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, April 01, 2022 Rating: 5

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