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the sacred sorority in their new album “Spell 31”

Spell 31 is the new album of the Ibeyi twins, a joyful syncretism of colors and sounds, a celebration of traditions and musical experimentation in all its forms. A mesmerizing third installment that takes its mysterious name from one of the chapters of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead…

After tackling the themes of femininity, racism and activism on ASH (2017), or those of filiation, death and their origins on their eponymous album Ibeyi (2015), Spell 31 sees the twins of the Ibeyi duo delve into their own spirituality and seek to reconnect with their ancestors.

Produced by their lifelong sidekick Richard Russell and featuring the participation of Jorja Smith, Pa Salieu and Berwyn, this ten-track third opus is a captivating mix of Yoruba music with modern jazz, pop, electronic, soul and hip hop. The two sisters give life to a work that crosses continents, from the Americas to Europe via Africa. And Lisa and Naomi confirm that their music does not respond to anything known.

Rhythm at the center of the creative process

This new album is a surprise for those who have followed Ibeyi since their debut. A new energy spreads from each track, subverting the rules of composition and bringing a more solar dynamic, leaving the spectral atmospheres of the album Ibeyi. However, a calm emerges from these catchy rhythms. The two composers seem to be entering a new creative phase and, as they explain, this is also due to some innovations in their writing process.

Usually, Lisa-Kaindé started the songs on the piano and Naomi modeled the percussion around her sister’s melodies and lyrics. This time around, the beats came first. Thus, Naomi and Richard Russel first composed the beats, then Lisa-Kaindé came to bring her lyrics. In an interview, Lisa-Kaindé explains that their melodies “Had to put on some muscle…and be able to keep up with the pace”. Naomi’s voice is also more present on this album, thus taking the duo towards new trajectories and definitively establishing Ibeyi’s identity.

A disc with sacred accents

Ibeyi’s music is always characterized by a deep and fruitful link to the sacred. The title of the album refers to one of the chapters of the book of the dead from ancient Egypt, the mystical work that accompanied the deceased during their journey to the afterlife and evoked all the stages of this posthumous pilgrimage. Hypnotizing, the album is a real achievement: it proves the incredible ability of the duo to change register, to switch unhindered from one genre to another, by creating unique atmospheres, as bewitching as a sacred ceremony.

At the beginning of the album, with Sangoma, the twins prepare the ritual and open the dances. They then change themselves into sangoma, the healers of southern Africa. Then, with O Inlé, they summon the god of healing: care is at the center of this musical research as meticulous and vast as a large colorful fresco. Care, a notion that responds perfectly to the committed subjects that were at the heart of previous albums. A response to discrimination, violence, a desire to reconnect with the divine that inhabits the living. With their sounds, the artists build bridges and bring healing to those who have been hurt by the world.

Since 2014 and his EP Oya, an ode to the Yoruba goddess of storms, the duo never ceases to explore stratified and creolized spiritualities, and to address themes such as loss and mourning. In this new opus, the two women do it through fluid grooves that shine with color and joy, channeling the pain.

Sisterhood at the center of the story

Barely out of their teens, the sisters achieved international success, rubbed shoulders with their idols (Beyoncé, Prince, Quincy Jones) and collaborated with some of the most talented artists of our time (saxophonist Kamasi Washington, Chilly Gonzales, Me ‘shell Ndegeocello, La Mala…). Together, they have crossed the world far and wide, surveying the best festivals.
Like many of their songs, they put sisterhood at the center and show boundless love and respect for each other. just listen Transmissionfrom the album Ashor the most recent Sister 2 Sisterpiece of Spell 31. The two women dialogue with each other throughout the album, as if the music revealed them to each other, in a symbiotic choreography.

The production of this new album took place in London, in the studio of Richard Russell, who is also a producer of the famous English label XL Recordings. As the writer Gaël Faye, close to the two sisters, writes: “In this refuge reigns an atmosphere of creation surrounded by musical instruments, esoteric books, cups of tea placed on the floor. During the sessions, the discussions are lively and animated. We cry, we laugh, friends pass by; Jorja Smith comes to listen to the titles under construction, sings on the title Lavenders and Rosessuggests singer Berwyn for the title Rise Above ; rapper Pa Salieu, after recording on the title Made of Goldimprovise with Naomi on a beat and this spontaneity will become the title Foreign Country.

Spontaneity therefore remains the key word in the creative process of Ibeyi, who only trusts his intuitions and his spiritual quests. With force, the duo pursues in this opus its feminist and anti-racist commitments by using music as a ground for reflection and denunciation. Gaël Faye then weaves the praise of Spell 31 : “This fusion of intimacy and emphasis, this proliferation of languages ​​and rhythms, the collision between a modern, electronic, minimalist sound and this song from the depths of the ages where all ancient memories respond to each other.”

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