Zaki Ibrahim: Play this at your chill house party

In explaining why it’s OK that Israel is devastating Gaza, the pundits keep telling us we should imagine what it would be like to have Canada shooting rockets at us, and what we would do about it.

It’s a pained and unconvincing analogy, but I’m going to exploit it here.

Because while the Canucks may not actually be planning on bombarding us any time soon, Americans should definitely watch out for sound bombs being lobbed from north of the border. For the second time in a couple of months, a Canadian artist is playing a major role in the daily soundtrack of my life.

Someone passed me Zaki Ibrahim’s aptly named new album, Eclectica (Episodes in Purple) last month. The singer, who according to her website grew up between Canada and her father’s South Africa, has a thoroughly unique sound. There are shades of Sade, hints of Portishead, traces of Goapele. She sings in French and English. I’m slowly falling in love with the disc.

It took me awhile to warm up to Eclectica, I think just because it is hard to categorize. It might be sold under R&B, but the music is so un-formulaic and varied from track to track that it takes a bit of effort to listen to. It’s all appealing, though, and most of the experiments work, except for a bizarre three-and-a-half-minute interlude of silence on the otherwise great track “Money (King Britt RMX)”. The silence separates a thumping dance track and a lovely, quiet ballad that reminds you of a stream meandering through a meadow, but a silence of 20 seconds or so could have been used to better effect. (I never understand why people are still using gimmicks like this and between-song skits. Perhaps a music promoter will one day explain it to me.)

My favorite tracks are “Computer Girl”, which borrows very loosely from Zapp and Roger’s classic “Computer Love“, and “You Choose“, which bumps like a Dre-produced Mary J track. (Sorry, looks like only snippets of the videos are currently available on YouTube, and their sound quality doesn’t do justice to the production quality.) The most downloaded track on iTunes is “Connected“, which I like, but which sounds most like music I’ve already heard (especially Goapele), so I’m not choosing it as my favorite.

Here’s how Computer Girl starts. I have no idea what these words mean, but I love them.

I could spend my whole life reading your face
I see you got thoughts in outerspace…
I will wait, wait for you…
I’ll be on my best behavior
I’ll be your computer girl

If you want music to play as guests at your stylish house party talk about cool, meaningful subjects while sipping wine and suggesting that numbers be exchanged, cop this Zaki Ibrahim joint. It’s worth it. Watch the seven-minute preview of the album below.

2 thoughts on “Zaki Ibrahim: Play this at your chill house party

  1. I’m a huge fan of Zaki and have seen her live more times than I can count.. which you must do if you get the chance.
    As much as I love Eclectica, I would recommend getting your hands on her first EP, Sho, Iqra in Orange. It’s ridiculously amazing especially it being the first piece of work she ever released.

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