William Onyeabor - World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? (4 stars)

Luaka Bop 25th anniversary reissue of Nigerian wigged-out electro funk

William Onyeabor

(Luaka Bop)

Who indeed? After self-releasing eight albums between 1978 and 1985 Nigerian musician William Onyeabor became a Born Again Christian, refusing to speak about his funky past ever again. Thanks to David Byrne's Luaka Bop, Onyeabor's eccentric funk and electro gems are a collector's secret no longer.

An early adaptor of new technologies, Onyeabor laces his tracks with squelchy analogue synths and spaced-out electronic effects. This reaches its apotheosis on the astonishing electro-funk of 'Good Name'. Onyeabor grafts Kraftwerkian robo-riffs onto a severely funky machine beat, his vocal melody tracing a cascade of cosmic synth. This oddball musical sensibility is matched by equally curious lyrics. 'One day you'll be lying dead!' he warns on the eerie Old Testament Afro-funk of 'Something You Will Never Forget'. 'Fantastic Man' sees Onyeabor strutting about in a white disco suit, as female vocalists coo 'You look so good!' over analogue synth wibbles. Wigged-out funky magic.

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