The Top Fifty Albums Of 2022: #4 Ibibio Sound Machine - 'Electricity (Merge)'

Published on 29 December 2022 at 06:33

By Paul Laird

Author of "The Birth And Impact Of Britpop: Mis-Shapes, Scenesters And Insatiable Ones"


As we bid farewell to Christmas let us take a moment to reflect on the one perfect human ever to  have walked the earth. The one and only progeny of God. An individual who, despite standing  taller than all mortal men, remains humble, and dedicated to providing salvation from the toils and  ills of this mortal coil. 


I speak, of course, of Eno Williams. 

Truly she is the light, and the life. 


Whenever I see one of those polls on Twitter asking people who is the greatest front person in  music history, where your options are Bloke From The Beatles, Bloke From The Rolling Stones,  Some Punk, and Some Bloke From Manchester, my heart doesn’t just sink, it drops, like an  elevator cut free from its pulley.  


It isn’t possible to see Ibibio Sound Machine, to watch Williams, and not realise that what you are  seeing is the cliche of an individual being a “force of nature” being ripped from the clutches of the  trite and the tired, and made ultra vivid. 


Even when she is standing still, it is impossible not to watch her, to be mesmerised, to be moved  by her mere presence. 


With “Electricity” Ibibio Sound Machine worked with Hot Chip, and the result is a note perfect  fusion of the afrobeat, funk, jazz, and soul of their eclectic sounds, and Hot Chip’s electro and  pop gifts. This album takes you on a journey, across continents, thanks to the wild, varied,  ensemble of musicians who make up the band, but also across the landscape of your interior.  Williams is able, even when singing in Ibibio, to connect with you. There are no borders here, no  boundaries. 


It is almost impossible to categorise “Electricity”, the range of sounds, the orchestral manoeuvres  of musicians from places other than “the West”, the personal and the political messaging, the  sweet soul music, the cool electronic beats, the heat of it all, makes it unlike anything else that  was released this year.