Doko Mien, by Ibibio Sound Machine
Suggested by Dan Hiscutt
Ibibio Sound Machine are a London-based, Nigerian-rooted electro-funk act with a Afrobeat vibe. They bring a smooth energy from their opening beat to their fantastic final flourish, powered by explosive brasses, incredible vocals, and fresh disco beats.
But, I hear you ask, would they win in a straight head-to-head musical pagger with the Miami Sound Machine?
Let’s check the tale of the (eight-track) tape. Ibibio Sound Machine stand at a whopping eight members, while the Miami version muster a mere four at the core. However, they can count TWENTY-NINE ex members, including the marvellously named Teddy Mullet, so it’s point one to Gloria’s crew.
Miami Sound Machine have twelve albums to their name, while Ibibio Sound Machine can only muster three. But Miami Sound Machine have TWO albums called “Miami Sound Machine”, and a third called “Miami Sound Machine: Miami Sound Machine”, so there’s clearly some electoral irregularity here. Ibibio have stopped the count and take the equaliser.
The deciding point is a straight foot-race up Coolness Mountain. Which band is the coolest? Miami Sound Machine may well have been Acceptable in the Eighties, but it’s the twenty-first century now. Ibibio Sound Machine take the points and plaudits.
Doko Mein is ISM’s third and latest album, and it’s packed with funky jams and disco glory. From the opening electronica of In Need You To Be Sweet Like Sugar to the chittering skips of the finale Basquiat, the band create a late-night low-fi party sound that’s infectious, uplifting, and effortlessly cool. The instrumentation on offer is packed thick and dense, creating a full-on chonky sound that’s both traditionally grounded and firecracker fun.
While whole paragraphs could be written about each individual element – the slapping bass, the intricate percussion, the wailing guitar, the soupy and saucy synth, the screaming brass – the most edifying contribution is from vocalist Eno Williams. She brings a number of hats to this cloakroom, switching from emotional diva to punk-like snarls and traditional Nigerian storytime without losing her strong personality. Her voice is a hot blade, slicing through the fridge-block butter of the packed musical narrative with ease.
My personal favourite is likely the ferociously funky bass-driven Wanna Come Down, but there’s so much to digest here. Whether it’s the percussive vocal nuttiness of the intro to Tell Me (Doko Mien), the saccharine sweetness of Guess We Found A Way, of the science fiction gospel fusion of I Will Run, there’s a funnelled stream of pure delight that’s thick and nutritious throughout.
Doko Mien is a triumphant album, without a weak link. I give it an exultant 8/10.