Ibeyi — pronounced “ee-bey-ee” — (something of course only discovered via embarrassing initial mispronunciation), is derived from ibeji, the yoruba word for a divinity of twins believed to have special, spiritual powers. This is fitting given that French-Cuban 20 year olds Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Díaz are indeed twins, with a musical output that seems to reference the soulful Nigerian praise songs of their ancestry as much as it does contemporary, haunting electronic and hip hop. Signed to the prolific XL Records, their eponymous debut — out this month — serves as a reminder as to why, in an age of internet-induced, maddeningly short attention spans and Spotify playlists, the album format has retained its relevance. Captivating, cohesive, familiar yet entirely fresh, there is a strikingly accomplished sense of warmth and shiver-inducing elegy that listening to Ibeyi evokes.
The only New Orleans-style brass band in town, Irish eight-piece Booka Brass Band are renowned for their raucously engaging live performances. Their reputation for pop covers precedes them – we’re talking ‘Crazy in Love’, ‘Talk Dirty to Me’ and even a tasty little rendition of supreme Destiny’s Child hit ‘Survivor’.
All of which is why, on paper, the idea of this – their debut EP – might seem a bit hard to swallow: can the incredible, tongue-in-cheek vivacity of their live show truly translate into a cohesive original recording?
The answer, thankfully, is yes.
Right from the swelling intensity of opener ‘Make That Do Noise’ through to the swinging, spiralling richness of ‘Legion of Boom’, the BBB EP certainly has a lot to offer. The former of these two is an absolute storm of a song. All fast-paced drums and stupidly danceable refrains, ‘Make That Do Noise’ recalls the likes of Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in its sheer enticing energy. Meanwhile the latter track starts all soulful and melancholy before crescendoing into something quite glorious.
It is apparent how clearly the group are aware of the potential of each instrument, and what works best to create the most striking, complementary harmonies. Indeed, from its forlorn, military-esque fanfare opening into the ending cascade of triumphantly forceful sounds, ‘Legion of Boom’ is everything you might hope for from said title.
The previously released ‘Nute’ is a sweet and subtle number, with its slow, nuanced build into an enthrallingly full timbre of sounds. All of this is underpinned by an intriguing, almost Bossa Novan sway in the bass. Title track ‘BBB’ is probably the jazziest song on the EP with its jaunty percussive shuffle. It is a pleasantly upbeat listen, though it fails to reach a satisfying conclusion.
As debut EPs go, the BBB EP is a solid start. It is a bold, brash and wonderfully polished early taste of an act with longevity beyond their live reputation.
We hope that the Booka Brass Band keep on making that do noise.
The BBB EP is available here.