Ibibio Sound Machine – Pull the Rope (2024) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Ibibio Sound Machine – Pull the Rope (2024)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 37:22 minutes | 424 MB | Genre: Funk, Disco, Electronic, Female Vocal
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Merge Records

Pull the Rope, the new record by Ibibio Sound Machine, casts the Eno Williams and Max Grunhard–led outfit in a new light. The hope, joy, and sexiness of their music remain, but, further honing the edge of their acclaimed 2022 album Electricity, the connection they aim to foster has shifted venues from the sunny buoyancy of a sunlit festival to a sweat-soaked, all-night dance club. Williams and Grunhard attribute this shift to a matter of collaborators, recording Pull the Rope with Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A.) over the course of two weeks. The way the pair wrote songs changed significantly rather than Eno penning lyrics to music generated by Max and company’s jamming, Orton started with Eno and Max writing together before adding the band.

Rather than recording with the full band in the room, Pull the Rope was sculpted, elements added and shaped by Grunhard, Williams, and Orton along the way. As a result, Pull the Rope is a nimble, sleek machine that’s thrilling from the first note of the opening title track, Eno’s otherworldly voice and PK Ambrose’s throbbing bass driving through a kaleidoscopic array of house, post-punk, funk, Afrobeat and disco, bangers and ballads, making an argument for unity that begins on the dancefloor. “We are the places we grew up, the places we’ve been, and the people we’ve met along the way,” Williams says. “Hopping around the globe, we’ve found that people are fundamentally the same they’re people. Opposing sides push and pull, but there is an alternative to war, violence, and suffering.” The sound of Pull the Rope, then, is hope in darkness, bliss in spite of bleakness. Once again, Ibibio Sound Machine are here to provide the soundtrack to the best night of your life, and the better world to come.

Mixing buoyant basslines, a stellar midnight-at-the-club vibe and the overall attack of a studied live dance band, Ibibio Sound Machine’s Pull the Rope sounds tailor made for that bewitching moment on the dancefloor just after the sweat starts getting in your eyes, you’re feeling winded and thinking maybe it’s time to bail. Then a jam like “Far Away” hits the system and, with its urgent, pointed Africa ’70-inspired horn riffs and spiraling polyrhythms, generates an adrenaline-and-dopamine bump that hits your pleasure center. At that moment, the night begins steering toward a much wilder, yet-unknown conclusion.

The band credits this fifth-album energy shift in part to Sheffield-based producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A.), who worked in the studio with the Sound Machine’s Eno Williams and Max Grunhard for two weeks while nudging them to rethink how they generated ideas and built songs. The continent-jumping “Got to Be Who U Are” mixes a futuristic spin on Williams’ roots in the Ibibio region of Nigeria and with layers informed by Grunhard’s academy-trained background in Australia. “Political Incorrect” opens with a Sly & the Family Stone-style beat before settling into a slow-disco banger that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Hercules and Love Affair set list. The Gang of Four-esque bassline underpinning “Fire” rolls like a perpetual motion machine, one augmented with squiggly pew-pew sounds of early ’90s rave and interrupted by a mid-track diversion that, like the evolution of Ibibio Sound System itself, gradually develops a whole new rhythm. – Randall Roberts

1-1. Ibibio Sound Machine – Pull the Rope (03:29)
1-2. Ibibio Sound Machine – Got to Be Who U Are (03:39)
1-3. Ibibio Sound Machine – Fire (04:30)
1-4. Ibibio Sound Machine – Them Say (04:10)
1-5. Ibibio Sound Machine – Political Incorrect (03:36)
1-6. Ibibio Sound Machine – Mama Say (04:48)
1-7. Ibibio Sound Machine – Let My Yes Be Yes (03:24)
1-8. Ibibio Sound Machine – Touch the Ceiling (02:45)
1-9. Ibibio Sound Machine – Far Away (03:16)
1-10. Ibibio Sound Machine – Dance in the Rain (03:40)


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