“SPECTRAL SYMPHONY” Ibeyi – Ibeyi

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“Ibeyi” is the Yoruba (an ethnic West-African culture) term for the divine spirit that exists between twins.

It is also the name of 20 year old French-Cuban musician duo Naomi and Lisa-KaindéDíaz. Daughters of the master percussionist and Cuban conguero Miguel ‘Angá’ Díaz, the sisters took up to carrying the family legacy forward via their music after their father’s death.

Musically, Ibeyising in fluent English, with occasional syllables and chants in ethnic dialects, and ground themselves firmly within their family’s shared beliefs and widely practiced Afro-Cuban religion based on the worship of ‘Orishas’ (spirits of natural elements), but what makes them worth the appreciation is their unique fashion of weaving together the best of Musical forms, right from jazz, blues, soul, hip-hip and even electronica around a mystic  mainframe vibe.

And the result of this weave is their deeply evocative self-titled debut.

The album opens with a quite lacklustre (deliberately so), but intense Yoruba prayer ;Ellegua, which symbolically refers to the Orisha (or a guardian angel) of crossroads and pathways, also considered as the Ganesh of YourubanOrishas, hence coming first. Each of the 13 songs in the album in one way or the other hints at an Orisha. The fluidic song, River, hints at the guardian of rivers and fertility – Oshun.

 

Carry away my dead leaves
Let me baptize my soul with the help of your waters
Sink my pains and complains
Let the river take them, river drown them
My ego and my blame
Let me baptize my soul with the help of your waters
Those all means are so ashamed
Let the river take them, river drown them

 

Every verse, every loop, every hook, crafted with utmost care and poetry, coupled with rare Afro-Cuban music with rich jazz and quirky combinations of hip hop beats on a Cajon. This is reflective of the dynamic interests of the twins; Lisa prefers soul singers like Nina Simone and Ray Charles, while Naomi reps hardcore Kendrick Lamar and EDM.

Adding dimensions to the album are songs like Think Of You, which is aptly the twin’s sonic eulogy to their dead father. The song is teeming with the ghots of their father’s memories,Anga’s drumming fades in and out like a spectre, reminding of his things, the way he walked, laughed and played music. On similar notes is the number ‘Mama Says’, depicting the frustration of their mother, trying to cope up with the death of her husband, trying to make sense of life after his death.

Deep,Björk-like emotions, tipping over an other worldly charm, Ibeyi crafted a whole new unique genre out of their passion and personal frustrations. Categorized under doom-soul, the album comes out as contemporary, ancient, tropical, yet cosmopolitan.  From a barrage of pop nodes and trippy percussion to Dr. Dre and Flying Lotusesque production, (thanks to the big producing house XL productions Ibeyi is associated with), the album spews forth masterpieces like Yanira, an ode to their sister, dead too, spilling with haunting vials, melancholy lyrics. And on a stark contrast songs with refreshingly unique boom-bap beats over piano keys pulsing like a heartbeat as in Oya’ (the Orisha of cemeteries and storms). Yet all the while a pinch of repetition in tonality, tempo and vibes is noticed, which is again easily shrouded by the genius production and deep lyricism.

The album comes a full circle and ends with a prayer to their namesake, Ibeyi.

All said, the poignantly spooky sisters succeed in starting with pretty much no online footprint to sparking an audacious series of cultural clashes, creating a heady stew of pop, electronic experimentalism,French jazz and acoustic R&B with mysticism and Yoruban spirituality that spans beautifully over language barriers.

Ibeyiproved a point, not just through their accomplished musical genius at a young age, but also in dealing with deaths and accompanying frustrations within a family, moulding the heat into an art before venting it out.

An inspiration to the youth indeed.

About The Author

Adarsh

Adarsh Raj (PGGC-11 CHD)

“Adarsh Raj is The Wolf of All Streets, who takes life as it comes in his face, and runs down his chin. We catch flies with honey, but he catches more hunnies being fly. Matter of fact, he didn’t choose the the thug life, the thug life chose him.
Oh and he stole my girl !!!” – Everyone else

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