With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for albums to drop online and go overlooked. Check out our weekly mini-guide to the best new records you may have missed. Happy listening – and don’t forget to hit the links and support the artists.
Tidiane Thiam – Siforde
A 75-minute meditative collection from guitarist Tidiane Thiam inspired by the four-string hoddu. Titled ‘Siftorde’ the record is his second with Christopher Kirkley’s Sahel Sounds label following his 2017 collaborative release with Amadou Binta Konte. On the ten-track record, the self-taught Senegalese guitarist plays dreamy fingerpicked folk numbers. The album was recorded at night time using one microphone adding to the authenticity and earthy tone of the music. The title translates into English as Remember – “a nostalgic ode to the temporality of the recording, and a plea for the songs themselves, whose survival demands they not be forgotten.” From the moment the gorgeously serene and gentle fingerpicked acoustic guitar starts, you can’t help but sink into the entirely immersive atmosphere. Sit back and relax to ‘Siforde’ below
ONIPA – We No Be Machine
We No Be Machine is an absolute gem of a debut album, from ONIPA. The 19 track album combines “afro grooves, electronics and fierce energy for an effervescent celebration of cultural and musical encounters.” ONIPA is a collaboration between KOG (aka Kweku Sackey) and Tom Excell, for their live show the duo expand to a four-piece that includes Dwayne Kilvington (Wonky Logic) on synths and MPC and Finn Booth (Nubiyan Twist) on drums. The recording also features an array of notable guest artists including Ghanaian star Wiyaala who features on three tracks, singing in the Sisaala language from the North of Ghana. The album also features collaborations with South African rapper Spoek Mathambo, Lesotho star Morena Leraba, Ghanaian percussion master Afla Sackey and Tanzanian sisters Pendo & Leah Zawose. If you haven’t listened yet, press play below and hit the buy link. Essential business!
Y-Bayani & Baby Naa And The Band of Enlightenment, Reason & Love – Nsie Nsie
Philophon unveils the debut album from Y-Bayani & Baby Naa And The Band of Enlightenment, Reason & Love. Having fortuitously teamed up with Baby Naa for his 2018 track ‘Rehwe Mie Enyim’, when another singer didn’t show up for the recording session, her cheerful tones is the perfect companion to Y-Bayani’s magnetic charm. Featuring the previously heard singles ‘Get Away’, ‘Rehwe Mie Enyim’ and ‘Asembi Ara Amba’, the nine-track project sees Y-Bayani take his lovely Afro roots reggae sound to another level. The wonderfully named Band of Enlightenment, Reason & Love provides the infectious roots-reggae backdrop. The sun is currently shining outside and this warming record is providing the perfect soundtrack.
Witch Prophet – DNA ACTIVATION
Toronto-based artist Witch Prophet makes a welcome return with a new ten-track EP. DNA ACTIVATION further exemplifies her unique sound which fuses Ethio jazz, RnB and hip-hop. Inspired by her Ethiopian and Eritrean roots – each song is named after a family member – as well as biblical stories, and myths across the ten tracks you’ll hear Witch Prophet sing in English, Amharic, and Tigrinya. As a result, it’s a varied affair, from the funky, afro grooves of ‘TESFAY’ to the bouncing boom-bap and looped piano of ‘ROMAN’. Elsewhere the gorgeous sax tones of Karen Ng’s float warmly across the albums standout cuts ‘EMET’ and ‘DARSHAN’. These are two of the freshest downtempo hip-hop tracks you’ll hear in a while. Basically, it’s fantastic from start to finish.
Félicia Atkinson – Everything Evaporate
French experimental composer, poet and visual artist Félicia Atkinson recently shared a new project dedicated to abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler. Released on her Shelter Press imprint, the five-track EP features everything from Spectral drones, gongs, bells, pianos and marimbas accompanying Atkinson’s voice. Exploring the neutral space of the in-between, of the transition, that becomes the actual lived-in moment. Everything Evaporate is as much about what it doesn’t do as what it does. Essential listening for anyone who enjoys sonic landscapes that are both other-worldly and serene.
Okklung Lee – Yeo-Neun
After releasing a collaborative live album with Ellen Fullman last year, cellist and composer Okkyung Lee has returned with a solo effort titled Yeo-Neun, via Shelter Press. The title “loosely translates to the gesture of an opening in Korean, presenting a window into the poetic multiplicity that rests at the album’s core. The album 10-song album was recorded with the Yeo-Neun Quartet, an experimental chamber music ensemble founded in 2106 by Lee, featuring Maeve Gilchrist (harp), Jacob Sacks (piano), and Eivynd Opsvik (bass). Standouts include ‘here we are (once again)’, ‘another old story’, ‘in stardust (for kang kyung-ok)’, and ‘facing your shadows’. Audaciously unpredictable, yet still calming and crammed with fearless experimentation Yeo-Neun is an absolute listening pleasure. This one’s a keeper!