Before And After The Disco: Ibibio Sound Machine’s Self Titled Debut Album

Ibibio Sound Machine’s debut offering is a distillation of a day, shaped from a twenty-four hour palette of light, as their sounds are filtered through its unstable changes in tone and texture. If silence is the canvas for which musicians paint upon, then by the end of the album, there is only an indistinct memory of silence left as a throbbing afterglow. Eno Williams, the British/Nigerian front woman and vocalist, opens the album by bringing the sun up to a morning in bloom with ‘Voice Of A Bird (Uyio Inuen)’, a brightly coloured gospel-hymn with miniature melancholic inflections. An introduction that is mirrored in the album’s afterword ‘Ibibio Spiritual’. These two tender monologues expand a transcending field to the work, sung in the South-East Nigerian Ibibio language through which Williams recalls and retells surreal and fantastical folk stories told to her by her family as a child. Her performances during the work can be eccentric and confrontational, some sung quavering, some part-rapped, in or against the rhythm – but always in flight.