Courtesy of junostatic.com
Ibeyi, made up of French-Cuban sisters Naomi and Lisa Kainde Diaz, the daughters of the highly celebrated and Grammy-award winning percussionist Miguel “Anga” Diaz, are the latest to join the likes of JUNGLE, FKA twigs and more at XL Recordings. Translated to “twins” within their Yoruba culture, Ibeyi (that’s ee-bey-ee) released their debut EP titled Oya, from earlier this year, in which they delve into the realms of R&B and Electronic music, whilst adding their own cultural twists.
On title-track ‘Oya’, the twins guide you through a spiritual journey of multi-layered vocals and arrangement which steadily grows and blossoms through the track’s progression. At just nineteen years old, they demonstrate a certain maturity and attention to detail, giving us the sense that every element in the song, has been thoroughly thought through. The depth in their vocals for example is truly entrancing, as Lisa Kainde takes centre stage whilst Naomi backs up with her own musings to create an elegant and uplifting harmony.
From start to finish, the grandeur of the track is evident, with the powerful production courtesy of XL boss Richard Russell who shrouds the atmosphere with magnificent electronics and raw percussive sounds to find the perfect balance between synthetic and organic. The same hypnotic and mysterious vibes can be heard on the flip side, with ‘River’ a dedication to Oshun, the River Goddess. Once again, Russell fills out the soundscape with a repetitive, and skeletal beat which serves as the perfect backdrop for their vocals to float effortlessly over the dark and beguiling instrumentation. However, where ‘Oya’s multi-layered production gradually built and solidified, ‘River’ tends to stick to a single pace, which becomes a slight hindrance.
If anything, the breakdown after the third minute (which sees the twins raise their voices up in the Yoruba language) is so unexpected, that you’re thrown off slightly and are left a little unsettled. Likewise, whilst the cultural influences in both tracks add a refreshing versatility to their sound, those unware of their background, can potentially get disconnected from what’s being said. With everything in mind, Ibeyi have most definitely exemplified their talent as musicians and vocalists in Oya but with a few small tweaks in their songwriting, can go onto big things.