Polystylis­tic French- Cuban duo Ibeyi yearns for a just world

Chicago Sun-Times - - SUN-TIME AGENDA - — PETER MARGASAK

FRENCH- CUBAN TWINS Lisa- Kainde and Naomi Diaz, also known as polystylis­tic R& B duo Ibeyi, mas­ter­fully trans­form first­hand ex­pe­ri­ences and thoughts into some­thing uni­ver­sal on their rav­ish­ing sec­ond al­bum, Ash ( XL). The for­mer wrote the song “I Wanna Be Like You” with the lat­ter in mind. Though the lyrics re­call her early mem­o­ries of dream­ing she pos­sessed the qual­i­ties of her sib­ling, as the sis­ters sing, “I’m of­ten down, of­ten down / I of­ten cry, of­ten cry,” they come off as a pow­er­ful yearn­ing for child­like op­ti­mism and hope. “Death­less” is based on an ex­pe­ri­ence Lisa- Kainde had when she was 16, where she was wrongly ac­cused and hu­mil­i­ated by a French po­lice­man, who dumped the con­tents of her purse on the street. Over the im­plor­ing tenor sax­o­phone of guest Ka­masi Wash­ing­ton the twins chant, “We are death­less” with a de­ter­mi­na­tion that can’t quite over­come the scar­ring caused by the en­counter. In “Away Away” they long for a calmer, less fran­tic world over shim­mer­ing beats and a deftly de­ployed ef­fect that re­calls the damped gui­tar tones in the Ann Pee­bles clas­sic “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” As on the duo’s su­perb epony­mous de­but, Ash col­lides sub­tle in­flec­tions of Afro- Cuban rhythms with sul­try, con­tem­po­rary R& B; Ibeyi trust in the gen­tle shapes of their songs, and their lovely har­monies and sim­mer­ing grooves get the job done. The most stun­ning song on the al­bum, “Trans­mis­sion/ Michae­lion” ( which fea­tures bas­sist Meshell Nde­geo­cello), is a two- part mar­val that un­folds with prayer-like solem­nity, only break­ing into beats in its sec­ond half. Only “No Man is Big Enough for My Arms,” which re­lies too heav­ily on sam­pled speech by Michelle Obama to con­vey its fem­i­nist mes­sage, falls short.

AM­BER MA­HONEY

IBEYI, THEMIND, KODA Fri 11/ 10, 9: 30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, $ 15. 18+

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