Going into this, I enjoyed hearing what sounded like someone tuning into a a world and/or culture with a radio until it reaches the correct frequency. Then I realized that it’s not a frequency but someone trying to immerse themselves amongst the sound and people (at least musically) and it becomes the voyage of life we’d all like to take but rarely ever go on. That’s how I hear mbira abstractions (elegua), the latest project by io, a collaboration between David Font and Andrew Mark. The music is a combination of real instrumentation and electronics, where each play a role in communicating with one another. It becomes very tribal, coming off like someone exploring Africa to making it to different Asian countries and smiling from ear to ear as they discover the possibilities. One of the more interesting moments happens in “Her Bones Will Rise Again”, where within what could be the sound of a spiritual awakening (and I say that only based on the title of the song), you hear a bit of funky boom bap, as if someone is driving into the parking lot and showing what kind of volume their car has. It fits in along with the other mixtures of opposites, or at least perceived opposites, where one might think that “sound A” should never be heard mixed with “sound B”. It always should, sound has no law.
mbira abstractions plays with the idea of time and space, indigenous and modern, traditional and adventurous, and it’s that adventure that will pull people into the music of io, which may inspire others to get out of the doldrums and set their own new paths in sound.