Monday, February 16, 2015

Music: Ibeyi, a New Act We Like

In the past year or two, we've been privy to the wondrous sounds of French-Cuban duoIbeyi. Their progressive nature and ability to experiment with pop, folk, electronic, jazz and choir sounds proves why they've been popular thus far. The duo take on the very meaning of their name, in a sense that both voices are unique but it is as if one cannot exist without the other. Their vocals sound more like spiritual incantations and with their voices, they break down cultural barriers that may exist between themselves and their listeners.
With such a diverse background, Ibeyi are able to dive in to a number of cultural influences. The Yoruba inspiration makes up the very fabric of the album, with the intro beautifully harmonised by the duo in the Nigerian language and 'Oya', which loosely translates to 'come on'. With that, there's never a moment where you feel that you need to understand what they're saying in order to feel the emotions conveyed.
Comparisons have been made to FKA twigs' LP1 but apart from the use of percussion and trancing harmonies, Ibeyi share few similarities to their label-mate. Richard Russell marvellously pulls off the production, keeping it simple and allowing the duo's voices to carry the album. When you listen to Ibeyi, you hear the human experience conveyed in its purest form. The album is a package of emotion, there is grief, joy, passion and love. 'Mama Says' is a deep eulogy to the passing of their father, famed percussionist Anga Díaz. Whilst 'Yanira' is an inspirational dedication to Ibeyi's older sister who passed away in 2013. Yoruba culture is known for celebrating the lives of those who have passed through song and dance, a ritual that Ibeyi have embraced elegantly.
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