Ibibio Sound Machine, “Uyai”

Ibibio Sound Machine
Uyai
MERGE
7/10

Hailing from London and informed by frontwoman Eno Williams’s Nigerian ancestry, Ibibio Sound Machine brings their sophomore effort Uyai, an idealistic album full of dance music, to us via the equally idealistic Merge Records. Its twelve songs take a position on beauty (“uyai” in Ibibio), defining it both as liberating for the body and empowering for the mind.

And there’s a kind of political beauty in the sight of an empowered woman and her band communicating passionately and honestly, forcing you to get up and dance for them while also strengthening your convictions. “Give Me a Reason,” the album’s opening track, confronts the 2014 abduction of 276 Chibok girls in Northern Nigeria with neo-disco rhythm and flare. “Quiet” is a slow and somewhat eerie synth jam yearning to get a thought out of its listener. “The Pot Is on Fire,” rare and elegant, is edgy electronica asking one’s waist to get with the fight. Elsewhere, afro-futurism abounds, most notably on “Joy (Idaresit).”

Uyai’s rhythms manifest an impressive comprehension of aesthetics and politics that pleases tremendously. By remaining faithful to the morality of their mission instead of catering to the inherent contradictions of our social convictions (this is not Beyoncé asking us to bring down the oppression that is a byproduct of the capitalism that she plays into), Ibibio Sound Machine radiate magnificently positive energy from beginning to end.

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