Ibibio Sound Machine return with their first new material since their widely acclaimed second album Uyai arrived in March 2017 on Merge Records. Fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, the UK-based group is a clash of African and electronic elements inspired in equal measure by the golden era of West African funk, disco, modern post-punk and electro. Their new single–the groovesome, strutting “Basquiat”–was written as part of theBarbican’s Video Jam, an event inspired by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat that took place earlier this year in the UK. Hear “Basquiat” here:https://youtu.be/qGoDbhnFnSM.
To single this out as a return for Ibibio Sound Machine could be something of a misnomer though. In truth, the relentless activity of the band in the 18-months since Uyai’s release has meant they’ve never really left the public eye: they went on a wildly successful debut US tour, played some of their biggest UK shows to-date and toured as far and wide as Russia and Hong Kong; brought their fevered dance party to festivals including Latitude, Benicassim, Flow and Rock-En-Seine; released Eyio, a bonus EP containing outtakes from Uyai as well as a stirring take on The Cure’s “A Forest”; and made a lauded return toLater… With Jools Holland. Watch their Later… performance of Uyai opening track “Give Me a Reason” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
That’s not to say new music isn’t a welcome gift from the ensemble, especially when it finds them on such striking form and with much more to come. Williams notes, “It’s been a great year for us, getting to travel around to play in new places like Hong Kong & Russia, returning to do more shows in the USA, performing at events like the closing of the Basquiat exhibition at London’s Barbican Centre and getting back into the studio to work on some new music, which we can’t wait to share with you all.”
Listen and share “Basquiat” and keep your eyes peeled for more news from Ibibio Sound Machine in the coming months.
More About Ibibio Sound Machine & ‘Uyai’
Uyai means “beauty” in the Ibibio language and refers to the strength and free spirit of women in general and, in particular, the courage of the women in Eno’s family, to whom she often refers in her writing.
“Uyai is a continuation of Ibibio Sound Machine’s story in which the worlds of West African highlife and electronic London collide via the storytelling lyrical thread of Eno’s vocals in the Ibibio language of Nigeria,” the band explains. “There is a darker, edgier quality to the sound that maybe reflects the difficult journey the band took from making the first album to completing the second one. The songs are based more around themes of empowerment, freedom, and the liberation of dance for women, and people in general.”
Ibibio Sound Machine is Eno Williams (vocals), Alfred Kari Bannerman (guitar), Anselmo Netto (percussion), Jose Joyette (drums), John McKenzie (bass), Tony Hayden (trombone, synth), Scott Baylis (trumpet, synth), and Max Grunhard (saxophone, synth).