Rough Trade West – September 22nd
With the sun beating down on a shuffling crowd of punters and passers-by unable to cram inside Rough Trade this evening, it looks like the last of the summer weather is going to wrap to the sound of some French-Cuban soul pop. Ibeyi are an unusual duo for an unusual venue. Their sound is a patchwork of times, cultures and genres that come together in a potent mix that might rightly be called Doom Soul. Their West African roots and the journey their culture survived during the slave trade plays a key role in their music’s message and delivery, juxtaposed with their adolescence in Paris, soaking in the baritone of Nina Simone and the electronics of James Blake.
The result is a meeting of the human and the synthesised. Samples and drum beats intertwine with the earthy and emotive Yoruba lyrics, Lisa-Kaindé dealing in soulful melodies on vocals and piano, Naomi delivering the bedrock rhythms with her inventive cajón style. Even in a stripped-back production such as this, Ibeyi sound big. The haunting electronic layers of ‘Oya’ bring a sense of ceremony and scale, while the prayer drone and percussive snap of ‘River’ gains extra muscle in this enclosed space.
The intimacy of the venue has its drawbacks, as the late-comers out on the pavement will attest, but the charm of viewing the twins perform from behind the counter, or watching the sound guy adjust levels on his iPad from amongst the crowd gives the set a sweet, odd edge against the depth and melancholy of Ibeyi’s music. Expect big things from their upcoming debut on XL.