Ibeyi – Ash
An astonishing, beautiful second album from the French-Cuban sisters, Ibeyi
Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz make gorgeous, soulful music centred around their remarkable voices. Following their eponymous debut LP in 2015, Ash is their second release on XL Recordings. Its short intro track is a powerful, tribal-sounding, percussive crescendo, and the album is a heady mix of electronic and traditional sounds. It plays with contrast and duality throughout: the two distinct voices of the artists, a plurality of languages, and variations in tempo. The more joyful melody of second track, Ash's lead single Away Away, is quickly juxtaposed with the darker sounds on Deathless, which features saxophone from Kamasi Washington.
Regularly, the record jumps from a single voice to choral richness, employing repetition which, more often than not, sounds like a rallying cry – desperate, strong, willing. No Man is Big Enough For My Arms places the music overtly in the political, with lengthy samples from Michelle Obama, asserting that 'the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls'. In the current climate, this is evocative to say the least.
Other highlights include Waves, which is arguably one of the most chilling and beautiful tracks of the year. Its sheer simplicity is astounding, as the goosebump-inducing vocals communicate vulnerability, terror, and hopefulness; feelings which have arguably come to define our current collective consciousness. 'Untie my tongue', Ibeyi ask. Ash shows these artists doing that for themselves – and the results are magnificent.
Listen to: No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms, Waves