Electronic, polyrhythmic James Brown funkyness. And lots of Fela Kuti attitude. Ibibio Sound Machine is a group that takes the best from contemporary electronic dance music, highlife and post punk and uses it to concoct a futuristic version of afrobeat – and all that in a very tasteful way! With its multitude of references, Ibibio Sound Machine reflects the ocean of music styles and cultures that is the band’s hometown of London. The group was formed around the record label Soundway in the British metropolis, where producers Max Grunhard, Leon Brichard and Benji Bouton met British Nigerian singer Eno Williams. Her lyrics in the Ibibio language are partly based on stories from her childhood in southeastern Nigeria. The band soon added Ghanese guitar legend Alfred ‘Kari’ Bannerman, Brazilian percussion ace Anselmo Netto and a horn section consisting of two Britts, Tony Hayden and Scott Baylis.
The rhythm is hyper tight and the bass massive on debut single “Let’s Dance”, but the debut album also shows off other more soulful and gospel like sides of the eight piece band. And while the studio version of Ibibio Sound Machine crreates a dense, dry dance floor heat, the group is more oily explosive on stage, there’s an intensity that in itself is reminiscent of Nigerian afrobeat kings of bygone days – but above all it proves that Eno Williams and her band are unique beyond that genre’s patriarchal base.