Multilingual melodic pop from 19 year old twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz. Daughters of late Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz, Ibeyi elegantly fuse traditional Cuban sounds with a contemporary ear for hip-hop and electronic percussion. A graceful blend of vintage soul and modern production. Out on CD and vinyl LP from XL.
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We have Ibeyi to thank for the most interesting pop record of the year so far. This self-titled debut comes immaculately pressed and presented via XL, and offers a mirage of culminatively gorgeous sounds -- ingrained in this record are perfectly pitched melodies that recall Laura Mvula, strikingly interspersed electronica, uncanny samples, sick beats and hints of soul. It’s a dramatic but never pantomimic record that resolves its emotions around song. You think you’ve heard something like this before, but you definitely have not.
Daughters of the drummer Anga Diaz, Much has been made of the percussive bent of Ibeyi, who utilise Afro-Cuban drums to energise and naturalise the synths that roll around the record. That said, there’s also a lot of balladry going into these songs: perhaps the best song on the record is “Behind the Curtain”, a dour and distraught tune based around piano and the dual vocals of the Diaz twins. After a few minutes of sparse piano soloing, the duo reach for their drums, and it sounds like the song’s shifted environments. Ibeyi might have a lot of percussive brilliance going for them, and there are beats of all sorts covering this thing, but it’s the way they build to the drums that counts: these are songs first.
Despite containing more than a few bona fide torch songs, ‘Ibeyi’ has a strangely weightless quality to it, produced in a way that connects together each of its sounds so that they can be absorbed into the seamless rhythms and sighed vocals of the Diaz sisters. Debuts shouldn’t be this free-flowing: ‘Ibeyi’ make a record that sounds at once effortless and as if two hearts have been poured into it.
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