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IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE

Ibibio Sound Machine

Doko Mien

    Eno Williams, frontwoman of Ibibio Sound Machine, uses both English and the Nigerian language from which her band’s name is derived for the dazzling new album Doko Mien. Long lauded for jubilant, explosive live shows, Ibibio Sound Machine fully capture that energy on Doko Mien, the followup to their Merge debut Uyai. In a glowing piece in the New York Times, those songs were praised for following “in the tradition of much African music, [making] themselves the conscience of a community.”

    By pulsing the mystic shapes of Williams’ lines through further inventive, glittering collages of genre, Ibibio Sound Machine crack apart the horizon separating cultures, between nature and technology, between joy and pain, between tradition and future. That propensity for duality and paradox seems common in people whose lives span continents. Williams was born in the UK, but grew up in Nigeria, always steeped in her family heritage. She obsessed over West African electronic music, highlife, and the like, but was equally empowered by Western genres such as post-punk, disco, and funk.

    The London octet have enveloped themselves in that maximalist quilt proudly since their 2013 formation. Though it can often bring with it news of stress and uncertainty, the modern world further brings all these disparate traditions into connection. “Everyone has everything now,” says multi-instrumentalist Max Grunhard. “Everyone has immediate access to every genre, picking things up from everywhere—like magpies.” And while they haven’t suddenly left their African roots behind, Doko Mien does find increased representation of English lyrics in the ratio. By sharing more directly with more universal lyrics, the record feels more anthemic, reaching for grander heights. “We wanted to give people a reason to sing along, to find their soundtrack every day,” Williams says. “We wanted everyone to feel as if they’re part of the music as well.” Late album highlight “Guess We Found a Way” addresses the change with a coy smile. “Guess we found a way to speak to you/ Guess we found a way to say what’s true/ To say what’s real,” Williams coos over glistening chains of reverberant synth and diamond dust percussion, before returning to Ibibio in the chorus. Perhaps the best example of the group’s ability to convey meaning across language and tradition, to blend past and future into a singular present comes on “She Work Very Hard”.

    The traditional Ibibio folk tale bobs over the waves of tuned percussion, chunky synth, and pinprick highlife-esque guitar, while Jose Joyette’s drums and Derrick McIntyre’s bass funk groove bring everyone to the dance floor. “These stories won’t be forgotten. Feel the music: it speaks to everybody,” Williams says. “We can travel back in time together, while convening on a futuristic, present tense. We hope that we can give people that reason to wake up, that one song to sing and dance and be happy.” Doko Mien: Tell me everything. On their new album, Ibibio Sound Machine provide the perfect companion, ready to digest as much as possible and then further unfurl beauty and hope. They remember and honor the past and charge forward toward the future, all while intensely expanding the present.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited LP is matte & gloss gatefold + white vinyl (1500 only worldwide), this is for Indie stores only.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    The descending motif of new wave synths, buzzing electro bass and sunkissed disco rhythms of "Give Me A Reason" signal the glorious return of Picadilly faves Ibibio Sound Machine and their second LP "Uyai". The album title (pronounced ‘you eye’) means “beauty” in Ibibio language and refers to the strength and free spirit of women in general and in particular, the courage of the women in lead singer Eno Williams’ family, to whom she often refers in her writing. The perfect clash of African and electronic elements inspired in equal measure by the golden era of West African funk, disco, modern post-punk and electro, "Uyai" is every bit as dynamic, danceable and infectious as its predecessor, while boasting greater variety and diversity in the songwriting.
    The album opens with “Give Me a Reason,” a song about the 276 Chibok girls who were abducted in northern Nigeria in 2014 and remain missing to this day. A raw bassline, urgency and restrained aggression of the track mirror public feeling about the tragic incident. "One That Lights Up" offers a moment of repose in the midst of the body moving beats, opting instead for sultry and organic funk grooves with just a hint of dub. “The Pot Is On Fire” is a food dance celebrating the “happy place” when the food will be ready soon. Elsewhere "Quiet" introduces spiritual ambient, "Joy" bangs through Afro-electro and abrasive punk motifs and "Lullaby" fuses emotive vocals and delicate melodies with Streetsound rhythms. Folk stories, recounted to Eno by her family as a child in her mother’s Ibibio tongue, form the creative fabric from which the band’s unique musical tapestry is woven. Evocative poetic imagery and empowering messages set against an edgy, Afro-Electro soundscape give the band a unique space within the current wave of modern Afrocentric sounds sweeping across the globe.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Building on the genre mashing majesty of their debut, Ibibio Sound Machine return with a diverse, danceable and dynamic sophomore LP which just about edges their debut. Amid constant changes of rhythm, focus and mood, the ensemble never comes close to a misstep or mistake, dancing comfortably into a bold future.

    Ibibio Sound Machine finally release their hotly anticipated debut album on the ever brilliant Soundway Records. The self-titled set sees the group effortlessly combine diverse genres with an ease I've not heard since the days of LCD Soundsystem, pulling together elements of West African highlife, disco, post-punk, psychedelic electro soul and nasty ass P-funk. On the squelchy bassed "The Talking Fish" and the 6 Music fave "Let's Dance" and the more traditional highlife cuts "I'm Running", "Uwa The Peacock" and "Woman Of Substance", Ibibio Sound Machine pack the wax with pure effusive energy. Elsewhere, "The Tortoise", "The Talking Fish" and "Prodigal Son" are bursting with raw funk power, with British / Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams in particularly fierce form. Folk stories, recounted to Eno by her family as a child in her mother's South-Eastern Nigerian Ibibio language form the creative lyrical fabric of the album, as can be seen with the natural and proverbial track titles. What I love most about this record is the fact it flows together as an album so well, with a nice progression from highlife to funk and electro disco aided by the excellent musicianship of the players. The album has soul in abundance, bookended as it is by two beautiful spiritual pieces, but will keep the dancefloor just as happy as the congregation. After all, they're pretty much the same aren't they?


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Sil says: Fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, Ibibio Sound Machine is a clash of African and electronic elements inspired in equal measure by the golden era of West-African funk and disco and modern post-punk and electro. It is the perfect amalgamation of African beats and electronic atmospheres put together in perfect balance, ready to be loved and danced to.
    When we played this in the shop for the first time, we were all happily surprised. The album oozes energy and good feelings throughout, with Williams channeling it all via her unique and compelling voice.
    The varied compositions range from the Gregorian chant-like sound found on “Voice Of The Bird (Uyio Inuen)”, to the breathless pace of “I’m Running”, and “Uwa the Peacock (Eki Ko Inuen Uwa)”. “The Talking Fish (Asem Usem Iyak)” exudes funkiness and elements of jazz, while “The Tortoise (Nsaha Edem Ikit)” offers a perfect communion of trumpet and up-tempo African rhythms. “Woman of Substance (Awuwan Itiaba)” – a personal favourite - has catchy dialogues between the guitar and trumpets. In “Prodigal Son (Ayen Ake Feheke)” we find sophisticated use of deep synthy electronica. And last but not least “Got to Move, Got to Get Out! (Ana Nkpong Ana Nwuoro)” reminds me of Michael Brook and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s album “Night Song” on Real World Records with its lingering and moody electronic soundscapes.
    There is not one filler on this album - they are all killers that point toward the fact that Soundway is not only committed to its critically-acclaimed reissues, but also to bringing to the forefront new vibrant sounds like the ones on this masterpiece.


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