One of the best new bands I came across during my recent trip to the UK was the eight-member, London-based outfit, Ibibio Sound Machine. I picked up the band’s eponymously named debut album, which was released earlier this year on vinyl with an MP3 download included in the package, at Piccadilly Records in Manchester while I was trawling the racks and listening to some of my selections. I was very taken with the single released from the album, Let’s Dance (Yak Inek Unek). Soundway Records, better known for its reissue compilations, is the band’s label.
Fronted by British/Nigerian singer Eno Williams, the band was originally set up by producers Max Grunhard, Leon Brichard and Benji Bouton, who recorded the basic tracks before adding the guitar skills of Ghanaian Alfred Kari Bannerman from the band Konkoma and Brazilian percussionist Anselmo Netto, before Williams added the vocals.
Singer Williams wrote much of the lyrical content of the songs, which was based on the folk stories her family told her in the Ibibio language in Nigeria when she was a child. The electro sound the band has produced is certainly a 21st century mix, but it also harks back to West African highlife, disco and Afro-funk. The label website says Ibibio Sound Machine produces music in which they “combine elements of West African highlife, disco, post punk & psychedelic electro soul”, although I’m not sure what the last of these terms actually means.
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