“Music is a universal language, but spoken language can help you think about what makes you emotional, what makes you feel certain feelings, what you want to see in the world,” says Eno Williams, frontwoman of IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE. When Williams uses both English and the Nigerian language from which her band’s name is derived for their dazzling new album Doko Mien, the group somehow produces a world of both entrancing specificity and comforting universality. A language entirely of their own.
Long lauded for their jubilant, explosive live shows, Ibibio Sound Machine fully capture that energy and communication on Doko Mien, the follow-up to their Merge debut Uyai. By directly sharing more universal lyrics, Doko Mien reaches for grander heights, and feels more anthemic as a result.
Williams was born in the UK but grew up in Nigeria, always steeped in her family heritage. She obsessed over West African electronic music, highlife, and the like, but was equally empowered by Western genres such as post-punk, disco, and funk. The London octet have proudly enveloped themselves in that maximalist quilt since their 2013 formation.
Perhaps the best example of the group’s ability to convey meaning across language and tradition, to blend past and future into a singular present, comes on ‘She Work Very Hard’. The traditional Ibibio folk tale bobs over the waves of tuned percussion, chunky synth, and pinprick highlife-esque guitar, while Jose Joyette’s drums and Derrick McIntyre’s bass funk groove bring everyone to the dance floor.
Doko Mien: Tell me everything. On their new album, Ibibio Sound Machine provide the perfect companion, ready to digest as much as possible and then further unfurl beauty and hope. They remember and honor the past and charge forward toward the future, all while intensely expanding the present.