A Many-Faceted Journey
Uyai is an album that touches on many emotions and many musical styles, and Ibibio Sound Machine are a band formed from many moving parts that come together to create something unique with this project. Eno Williams delivers great vocal performances that drive every track forward and speak to her Nigerian heritage through their lyrics. With synths, guitars and diverse percussion, this album’s production uniquely blends an ’80s aesthetic with newer production styles, all wrapped up in the driving force of Williams’s voice. This album is innovative and exhilarating from start to finish.
Uyai‘s songs range from happy and upbeat to slow and contemplative. “The Pot Is on Fire” is one of the best tracks to dance to on the album. It has a beat that makes us want to move until we can’t anymore. The layers of percussion really work well together, allowing Ibibio Sound Machine to craft a rich soundscape. While this song is clearly more influenced by African styles, other songs on the album have wildly different influences, ranging from psychedelic rock to ’80s pop. “Power of 3” is one track that illustrates this mixture of styles, with its spacey ’80s drum rolls in sync with African percussion and psychedelic guitar. Williams also delivers a stunning performance, perfectly matching the changes in tone that the song goes through.
“Cry (Eyet)” is a slow, entrancing song that is a short, but much needed, break. Its main feature is Williams’s slow chanting of the word “Eyet” from the title. It takes us to a very soothing place during its short running time. Another song that takes risks in structure and style compared to some of the album’s other offerings is “Sunray (Eyio).” It really pumps up the electronic flavor and wouldn’t feel out of place at a techno rave. Overall, Ibibio Sound Machine’s music does not belong to any one category or genre; it is unique and stands on its own.
Ibibio Sound Machine are creating music that only they can create from a pool of great influences. They know how to make a dance track. They know how to make a rock track. They really are a jack-of-all-trades band. Hopefully they keep blazing a trail in the future because they are doing it now and they have great results to show for it.