21
Nov 17

My Pop Year: IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE – “The Chant (Iquo Isang)”

New York London Paris Munich4 comments • 149 views

There seems to be a lot of music around at the moment involving a fusion of more acoustic – I don’t want to say ‘traditional’ – African musics, or African vocal pop traditions, and electronic production. Of course a hell of a lot of contemporary African pop already is hip-deep in ‘electronic production’, if by that you mean hip-hop, EDM, autotune, etc. But that’s not the stuff I’m talking about, which tends to look a few decades back on both sides of the equation, sounding a bit like a collision between a Rough Guide CD and a Warp Records compilation.

Which is great, lovely even, deeply atmospheric and setting up a dialogue of sounds and approaches that can be very rewarding even if its actual ‘utility’ is suspect. Mostly the format is a European producer or musician travelling out to a part of Africa and collaborating with local musicians, somewhat along the lines of Damon Albarn’s Mali Music project. Much respect, such discovery, and so on: great care generally taken to avoid seeming too touristic.

Ibibio Sound Machine is nothing like those records, which aren’t on this list, but I mentioned them because ISM get described in those kind of fusion-y terms – “updating West African styles” and so on, which I reckon gets the wrong end of things entirely. Ibibio Sound Machine are a UK-Nigerian band of, I think, loose membership but built around singer Eno Williams. What they are isn’t an ‘update’ of anything – no such hierarchical ideas obtain. What they are is a London band making ferociously good party music. Utility and this band are easy bedfellows. (There’s an equivalence of spirit – shitkicking music from a London immigrant tradition – with the Pogues as much as with anyone).

The thrilling, laserbeam-powered call-to-arms of single “Give Me A Reason” won them an awful lot of friends, but “The Chant (Iquo Isang)” is just as propulsive and just as good, a snapshot of liberation and a study in urgency. The draw for me is how that squiggle of a synth riff, after carrying half the music on its own, gets joined by the exultant horns and rasping second vocalists, and the song spends its last minute in ascension to a very righteous place indeed.

From the LP Uyai

Comments

  1. 1
    Ed on 22 Nov 2017 #

    Ibibio Sound Machine, surely? Like Miami, not LCD.

    (They sound terrific, BTW. Investigating immediately.)

  2. 2
    Tom on 22 Nov 2017 #

    Ahhh how embarrassing! Thankyou. I’ve not even heard the LCD album. Honour now restored.

  3. 3
    Alex on 24 Nov 2017 #

    I saw this lot play at the Village Underground a few years ago! Cracking.

  4. 4
    Cinema Box App on 25 Nov 2017 #

    This is one of the best articles I have come across. Keep up the good work.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page