Posts Tagged ‘Yoruba’

Live Review | ÌFÉ at London’s Rich Mix, September 23

Posted on October 13th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts, Reviews by .

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Words by Liam Izod, photo by Mariángel Gonzales

On the strength of the release of just two music videos, Puerto Rican group ÌFÉ were able to command a packed crowd for their UK debut at London’s Rich Mix in Shoreditch. An impressive feat given that producer/percussionist Otura Mun’s group are hardly your typical commercial proposition. ÌFÉ offer an experimental vision of organic electronic music, alloyed with Yoruban theology, the religion in which Mun is a babalao (priest).

Dressed in matching robe-like white shirts and kufi hats, and all sporting large headphones, ÌFÉ’s four percussionists looked like they had come direct from a silent disco at a theological conference. The somewhat shambolic impression carried through to the music. Clave rhythms ricocheted across the stage, triggering murky electro blips and plonks, by means of sensors rigged to the percussion. One woodblock –gaffer taped and trailing a cable – had the appearance of an improvised explosive, but ÌFÉ’s grooves were far from incendiary.

The group’s vocals were a highlight though, with every member singing in powerful chorus. It felt devotional at times, and clearly resonated with many in the audience, whether they understand the lyrics or not. Singer Kathy Cepeda cut a particularly charismatic figure, growling into the mic and exhorting the audience to dance.

While not revolutionary, ÌFÉ’s UK live debut had a raucous raw energy. As the group develop, there may be more than just the Shoreditch-istas at Rich Mix who will want to join Otura Mun’s groove infused guerilla movement.

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An ÌFÉ less ordinary

Posted on September 15th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts by .

ÌFÉ - House of Love

Liam Izod previews the UK live debut of the Puerto Rican group ÌFÉ, who undertake an experimental fusion of percussion, electronics and dance.

We live in an era of producers stepping out from behind their studio consoles to share top billing with performers and even eclipse them. So we perhaps owe thanks to this blurring of the boundary between producer and artist for Otura Mun’s intriguing new project and group ÌFÉ, who make their live UK debut at Rich Mix on September 23 amid much hype and mystery.

Otura Mun – a drummer by background – has been producing on the Puerto Rican scene since he arrived from the US in the 90s. Artists like Mima, Cultura Profética and Calma Carmona have all benefitted from his affinity with rhythm and groove. He decided to launch a solo project last year, after a chance engagement with the Life Magazine archive coverage of the 1965 Watts riots in LA, scenes that echo depressingly loud in the modern US of Mun’s birth. From ‘Life’ came ìfé, the Yoruba word for ‘love’ and ‘expansion.’

Expansion is an appropriate motto for ÌFÉ, as Mun takes a multi-sensory approach to music, treating dance and videography as equal partners. ÌFÉ’s most revolutionary expansion is to add a harmonic dimension to percussive instruments. Otura Mun has practiced some musical DIY, fitting traditional percussion with electronic sensors that trigger harmonic elements.

Otura Mun

In an interview with New York Based journalist and academic Ed Morales, Mun explains ‘I love electronic music, but it’s always seemed a little stiff and rigid.’ His electro percussion allows him to dispense with the strait-jacket of pre-programmed sequences without losing the expanded musical palette that electronics allow. The result – complex currents of groove punctuated by catchy electro squelches – is unsettling in its novelty but stays with you.

Otura Mun is ordained in the Yoruba religion as a priest or babalao, which literally means ‘father of mysteries.’ There is certainly a lot of mystery and mysticism around ÌFÉ, who have only released two tracks so far. September brings an opportunity for Londoners to see how the ÌFÉ experiment translates to the live stage. It promises to be an out-of-the-ordinary experience.

ÌFÉ play Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on September 23.

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