Foundations: Ibibio Sound Machine

From Aretha to afrobeat to Aphex Twin...

Ibibio Sound Machine are an explosion of colour and rhythm, melting together West African culture, raw funk, jazz, electronics and so much more.

Through the band's riotous live shows and their dense, multi-layered albums Ibibio Sound Machine have built a singular voice, almost a genre unto itself.

New album 'Doko Mien' is out now, with the group recently completing a breakneck UK tour that featured some packed out venues.

Clash caught up with Ibibio Sound Machine to discuss their Foundations, the albums that truly connected…

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Aretha Franklin – 'I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You' (As picked by Eno Williams)

There are so many great Aretha albums and this is one of the best. It’s not just about her vocals, with her rawness and spirituality she was able to transcend music itself and became the voice of a generation, maybe the voice of the century.

This album captures the essence of that, she was a hugely strong woman and on the whole definitely one of the greatest inspirations for me personally and probably for most female musicians.

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Oscar Sulley – 'Bukom Mashie' (As picked by Alfred Bannerman)

As a young teenage guitarist, I ignored this track because I considered it too weird. The bassist was playing an ‘atumpan’ bass drum, the melody and brass section swing together – great! But in the ‘70s, I ignored it. Now I see it as a work of Afrobeat high art – the harmonic clashes add an undefinable nuance to the work.

When Oscar sings, his lyrics are rebellious and his raspy vocal tone equally so. Bukom is the area in Accra where the best boxers in Ghana come from, only the strong survive. The title Bukom Mashie means ‘Bukom is where it all happens.’

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Weather Report – 'Heavy Weather' (As picked by Jose Joyette)

This record started me playing drums when I was two years old!

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Charles Mingus – 'The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady' (As picked by Max Grunhard)

This record had a massive influence on me as a young musician – it’s a huge sound, an ensemble playing together with discipline but also so much freedom. Mingus was a genius composer and bassist and from a horn playing perspective I don’t think there’s ever been another album quite like it.

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Aphex Twin – 'Selected Ambient Works Volume II' (As picked by Tony Hayden)

I remember when I was in my 20’s working at a sound and lighting hire company. This particular summer I was working the night shift from 8pm till 8am and I had a lot of time by myself in this huge warehouse at night with not much to do.

I used to set up a sound system and play this album on repeat quite loud. The sound would fill the warehouse and reverberate, it was like the warehouse had found a new voice, a lullaby sending me into a trance.

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Hugh Masekela – 'Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz' (As picked by Scott Baylis)

As a young trumpet student in Boston I was lucky enough to see Hugh playing live on a number of occasions. I loved the way he mixed jazz with African rhythms and the way he and the band played with such joy.

This album was one of the deeper African cuts that always stood out as a special album. Later when I was back in the UK I also saw him perform in London on a few occasions, then a couple of years ago Ibibio were honoured to be playing on the stage next to him at Love Supreme festival!

I was very sad when I heard of his passing but he definitely was a massive influence to many trumpet players and especially to me!

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'Doko Mien' is out now on Merge.

Photo Credit: Dan Wilton

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