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Album Review: The Invisible - Rispah


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Following their 2009 Mercury nominated debut, The Invisible make a welcome return with their introspective follow-up Rispah, dedicated to lead singer Dave Okumu’s late mother.

The three-piece supported each other’s musical projects for years before coming together as The Invisible, combining synthesized beats with an experimental rock edge on their self-titled debut that has earned them comparisons with contemporaries Wild Beasts and Bon Iver.

While writing the second album Okumu’s mother, who is also the inspiration for the album's name, passed away. This led Okumu to write a “love letter to grief” which while still carriying their signature sound, takes a darker, stripped-back approach that fuses cutting edge electronica with Okumu’s traditional Kenyan roots.

Fresh, honest, serene, yet anguished; Rispah introduces echoes of Kenyan funeral on ‘A Particle of Love’, mixing the women’s voices with a jarring electro-ethereal sound. This atmosphere defines the album.

The haunting vocals are supported by Leo Taylor’s flawless drumming (which, incidentally, features throughout Adele’s Grammy Award-winning 21) and are picked up by Tom Herbert’s riffs that solidify the album’s dark ambient overtones.

We are taken from desperation as Okumu sings “look into the void, let it take me” on ‘Wings’ to a numb fear in minimalist track ‘What Happened’, incorporating the Kenyan song motif towards the end.

‘The Great Wound’ and ‘Surrender’ bring in heavier beats to move to, bringing the instrumentalists’ rhythmic talents to the fore.

While the album has received accusations of being repetitive, I’d suggest that the recurring themes mirror the band’s project. Rispah deals with the conflicts of grief, from anger and fear to acceptance, circulating these emotions through searching instrumentals and bringing them together in final tracks ‘The Stain’ and ‘Protection’. Okumu sings “you only have this life, now, to express yourself”, an axiom which the trio epitomize in this fine-tuned album.

All I would recommend is to check out their first album as a starting point: it gives a better overview of what The Invisible is about compared to Rispah’s specific purpose. This collaboration is an excellent addition to electronic music, and will doubtless leave fans waiting in anticipation for their next project.

You can download Rispah via NinjaShop here.

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