Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Sampha — Lahai

The South London artist Sampha is back after six years, with his stunning new album Lahai.

Released on Oct. 20, Lahai is not only Sampha Lahai Sisay’s newest album but also his grandfather’s name, his own middle name and his next musical chapter. Following his debut album Process which won the 2017 Mercury Prize, this new album communicates themes rooted in his life in adulthood. When sharing the news about Lahai with the world through an Instagram post, the musician displayed various keywords from the album’s message as hints: “Fever Dreams. Continuums. Dancing. Generations. Syncopation. Bridges. Grief. Motherlands. Love. Spirit. Fear. Flesh. Flight.” Indeed, the 41-minute runtime covers each of these feelings, thoughts and life positions with intention. 

Lahai follows Sampha’s glimpses of self-awareness, snapshots of memories and realizations he’s been experiencing being a father, brother, friend and son. Throughout the 14 featured tracks, the singer reestablishes himself and beautifully expresses his personal stance in the world. A strong sense of communication and connection leads this album, whether a song tackles the past, present, future, or all of the above. 

The very first track, “Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman’s Dream),” introduces piano on its own, almost like trickling water in a playful way. The creatively produced track programmed acoustic instruments via MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and notably contains lyrics about missing someone while time flies. “Spirit 2.0” is up next, influenced by West African folk music called Wassoulou. Sampha repeats how waves, light, love, spirit, faith, friends and time will “catch you,” chanting a reminder we are never truly alone. The third song, “Dancing Circles,” explores conversing with someone he hadn’t seen in a long time and is layered over this addicting metronomic style piano and experimental rhythm. “Suspended” comes up next with gratefulness at its core, especially with the earnest line “I’ve been lifted by her love.” 

With “Satellite Business”, Sampha looks back on all of “the love and the care and the words [he] was given” and thinks to himself that there are “maybe no beginnings, maybe no bridges” when going through life events. This short introspective track is followed by “Jonathan L. Seagull,” lyrics about the dynamic between the people he’s met along the way and dealing “with loss and grief in separate ways.” This recognition is notably expressed with a passage of the song that repeats how seasons come, cry, grow and die. 

This cycle of maturation smoothly transitions into the narrative of “Inclination Compass (Tenderness).” The minimalistic piano, whistles, synths and background vocals accompany Sampha singing about the importance of implementing empathy, tenderness and fondness in times of hardship. “Only” is a more energetic follow-up with a message recognizing that you can be the one to help yourself, not necessarily other people. The previous short but sweet interlude “Time Piece” goes into “Can’t Go Back,” all about using time efficiently. It’s also one of my favourite moments of the album because of its gorgeous piano ending. 

“Evidence” and “What if You Hypnotise Me?” are the last moments of the album. They sonically compliment each other with charming and vulnerable lyrics, especially with the delightful string transition “Wave Therapy” between them. The album ends on “Rose Tint,” rounding up Sampha’s need for grounding by indicating “I needed nature, I needed scope.” 

Sampha’s tone conveys such softness and warmth while playing with different rhythms within his voice calibre. The production merges different sounds that are consistently crisp and minimalistic, which I really appreciate. Piano is definitely a prominent element throughout Lahai, also engaging with R&B, funk, jungle, grime and minimal classical music. They all seamlessly blend together and let Sampha’s lyrics breathe for our focus simultaneously. Lahai’s collection full of growth and distance is beyond refreshing to the ear and the heart. Sampha reminds us to look within ourselves and take the time to reminisce in a constructive way this fall. 

Score: 9.5/10

Trial Track: Jonathan L. Seagull

Briefs News

World in brief: London Bridge attacks, climate strikes against Black Friday and investigation into Malta’s murdered journalist

A stabbing attack on the London Bridge took the life of two people, leaving three injured on Friday afternoon. Governmental officials have since referred to the stabbings as a terrorist act committed by 28-year-old Usman Khan. Khan was a known, convicted terrorist who was released last year from prison, only halfway through his 16-year sentence, reported the Independent. Videos show evidence of Khan, wearing a fake suicide bomb, tackled by the public before being fatally shot by the police. Both victims, identified as Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, were in their early twenties and were involved with Learning Together, an organization for prison rehabilitation.

Black Friday was kicked off with climate strikes and overconsumption protests taking place around the world. Protesters targeted Amazon in France, while a widespread “Black Friday Strike” from Los Angeles to New York was called by a group of young people, reported CBC. In Madrid, where the UN climate summit will be taking place from Dec. 2 to Dec. 13, a giant banner reading “Consumerism = climate crisis” was hung by Geenpeace. The various protests mainly accused Black Friday of promoting overconsumption, accelerating the environmental crisis. Canadians were expected to spend more than $29 billion this year during the sales, according to Finder statistics.

Malta’s Prime Minister announced his plan to step down amid potential involvement in the 2017 car bomb killing of a journalist. Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed while she was in the middle of investigating corruption among the country’s political and business elite, as reported by The Guardian. On Saturday, the murder inquiry charged a businessman in the case with alleged ties to the government. It fueled the ongoing national protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat over his mishandling of the case for the past two years. Muscat said he will resign in the upcoming month and called for the process of choosing a new leader by Jan. 12, 2020.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Jungle: Bringing back the soul

London funk outfit brings 70s funk into 2019 at MTelus

Jungle, a band from London signed to XL Recordings, is currently on tour promoting their 2018 album, For Ever. On March 17, the 70s funk band stopped in Montreal to perform at MTelus. The show opened with alternative rock band Houses; Heavy guitar and drum beats filled the air at the antique-style venue and perfectly set the scene for the show. Jungle will be followed by Houses on their tour throughout the U.S.

Jungle arrived on stage around 9 p.m. after much anticipation from the crowd. A large sign hung high, displaying their logo in bright lights. Just below, a stage filled with smoke slowly cleared and revealed the seven band members in formation, with “J” and “T,” the founders of the band, leading in the front row. Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland have been friends since childhood—and formed the group in 2013.

They jumped right into their first single, “Smile,” and the crowd sung along. The most captivating thing about Jungle is how accurate their live renditions of their music are. They sound spectacular; it’s almost hard to believe. They didn’t miss a single beat, and their harmonies were synchronized perfectly. They performed “Heavy California” next, and their energy was contagious.

Nearing the end of their performance, the band walked off the stage without a word. Fans instantly began to call for them and sing the Habs-appropriated bullfighting anthem, “olé olé olé olé, olé olé.” They walked back onto the stage, and without hesitation, played one of their number one hits, “Casio.” It was exhilarating to see everyone singing along and appreciating the music. They closed the show with “Busy Earnin’,” from their first studio album, Jungle. This song originally reached the U.K. top 50 Independent Singles in 2014, catapulting their career.

Many people went to the back of the venue to wait by the tour bus and catch a glimpse of some of the band members. Others wrote the band members’ names on the tour bus as a final ode to an amazing show that truly enamored all who attended.

Touring the world, Jungle’s next show will be in Liverpool on March 31.

Exit mobile version