Arriving from London-via-Lagos, Nigeria, Ibibio Sound Machine are an 8-piece that make escapist disco referencing everything from frontwoman Eno Williams' own rich Nigerian musical heritage, to the Human League, to LCD Soundsystem, to Motown floor fillers. They've just put out their second record, Uyai, a powerful record full of pounding rhythms, jagged synth lines and Ibibio (language of Nigeria) chants to make it one of the most unique records of the year so far.
Ibibio Sound Machine are testament to the fusion of the organic and the artificial; Joy (Idaresit) is testament to this; a thudding drum machine meet a freestyling kit drummer to provide some huge cross-rhythms, working in tangent with some fizzing chip tune synths and classic-sounding brass fanfares.
In fact, the brass sounds - which have a rich, almost Motown feel to them - are almost constantly a warring faction with the bleeping synthesisers, often battling for melodic dominance. Though it's often the brass motifs that come out on top, the electronic bleeps constantly provide a luscious and new sonic texture. Trance Dance recalls Daft Punk Is era LCD Soundsystem, entwining a descending synth bass part with taunting trumpet parts and a hectic cowbell, whilst opener Give Me A Reason kicks the record off with the most obnoxious synth part on the album, properly recalling Murphy and co.
A godsend full of passion, energy and laden with brilliant, instantly danceable grooves, Ibibio Sound Machine's Uyai takes it's cues from dance and disco, but still sounds distinctly Nigerian. It's a liberating, escapist record, and throughout the band's leader Eno Williams provides a shamanic performance to remember. One of my records of the year so far, and almost certainly the most enjoyable.
(Words: Cal Cashin)