Not too long ago, the idea of fusion in music was about as derided as the concept album. But Benin City don't seem to care about that, making this pioneering approach a genuinely unique proposition on their debut album.
The trio takes elements that aren’t exactly renowned bedfellows to create a new blend that's perfect for a mid-afternoon, sun-baked slot at a festival.
Richly sonorous brass, sprinkles of chiming electronic melodies, streetwise lyrics that cover everything from the Thames to Facebook status updates, hip-hop, the euphoric jerky unpredictability of bass and dubstep: it’s all to be found, improbably working together just fine, on ‘Fires In The Park’.
Vocalist Joshua Idehen has his roots in London's spoken word scene, and infuses these tracks here with a smart, urban poetic air. But he’s also capable of delicate, soulful tones, as on the sweet 'Baby' or the anguished and atmospheric 'D.A.M.'.
It's accomplished multi-instrumentalist Tom Leaper’s inventive arrangements that steal the focus, pitching sax and warm, organic sounds across the album in a fashion that suggests he might have been weaned on his parents’ Burt Bacharach collection.
The expansive 'This Is London (Part 2)' is the centrepiece, a moving ode to the capital that finds its heart far away from the shiny Olympic image presented last year.
Words: Mat Smith
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