Ibibio Sound Machine – Doko Mien

Doko Mien is an epic adventure through the ages as Ibibio Sound Machine take you on a voyage of soul-reviving, genre-defying discovery

Album Review by Alex Phelan | 19 Mar 2019
  • Ibibio Sound Machine – Doko Mien
Album title: Doko Mien
Artist: Ibibio Sound Machine
Label: Merge
Release date: 22 Mar

Come join Ibibio Sound Machine, if you dare, on a voyage of soul-reviving, genre-defying discovery. It’ll be lot of fun and you might just learn a thing or two. Just a warning – there’ll be no walking, strictly dancing.

These guys have been busy. This is their third album in only five years and it’s bursting with energy. It feels like they have an unceasing spring of distilled passion, spilled joyfully into tracks like the refined groove that is Tell Me with its glorious 80s beats and a dancefloor oomph that defies you not to move your body.

London-born singer Eno Williams blends the sound of her mother’s Nigerian tongue into the melting pot, adding a vibrancy to the band’s afrobeat-inspired anthems. And it’s no surprise to learn that the three responsible for starting the machine – Max Grunhard, Leon Brichard and Benji Bouton – are all producers, as they weave instruments and vocals together in flawless union.

Need You To Be Sweet Like Sugar comes in all funk guitars and brash brass paired with Williams' soulful vocal, but with a moody, spaced out post-punk vibe at the same time. She Work Very Hard has a classic house stomp partnering the youthful dynamism of a quick-fire drum machine. These unlikely consorts couldn’t be made to look more natural together.

The best is saved until last – Basquiat starts off jazzy, experimental and loose before a beast of a beat kicks in and the band dutifully surrender to it. The clarity as it transforms into a pounding dance track sends a tingle down the spine, as piano notes fall like rain akin to Riders on the Storm by The Doors.

Occasionally Ibibio Sound Machine venture a little too far into the wilderness with some slightly half-baked R'n'B and a rather meandering slow number, but they’ve taken risks and for the vast majority of this superb record, it has paid dividends.

Listen to: Basquiat, Tell Me (Doko Mien)