French-Cuban duo Ibeyi release “Deathless”, an empowering single with Kamasi Washington announcing their sophomore LP “Ash”.
They are twins, Beyoncé loves them, yet we’re not talking about Sir and Rumi Carter but precisely about Ibeyi, the bewitching French-Cuban sister act. Three years ago, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz exploded onto the French music scene before being globally introduced by Queen Bey herself to her millions of followers on Instagram. Crucially, their appearance on her visual album “Lemonade”, rooted Ibeyi into pop consciousness.
“Ash” is the follow up to the duo’s critically acclaimed debut album. To be released via the mythical record label XL Recordings (Adele, Radiohead, The xx) on September 29, the sophomore LP got himself another teaser with ‘Deathless’; a politically charged and entrancing track accompanied by surreal visuals.
The disturbing video explores the continuous cycle of life as the twins endlessly emerge from each other’s stomachs, giving birth to one another. Everyday we are reborn, symbolizing their “Whatever happens / We are deathless!” mantra. The twins sound invincible and that’s the infinitesimal way they want you to feel when they roar the chorus.
Ibeyi‘s “Deathless” will undoubtedly uplift you.
In truth, “Deathless” is a poignant response to racism and an anthem for anybody who feels too little: minorities, the weak, and the deprived. Deathless draws its inspiration from Lisa-Kaindé‘s (brown eyes and afros) traumatising experience: “He said, he said / You’re not clean / You might deal / All the same with that skin” she sings. Indeed, she was unfairly arrested by the French police when she was sixteen, explaining: “the policeman asked me to take off my shoes while emptying my bag on the floor and asked: do you smoke, do you drink, are you on drugs?”. However, when he saw she had a Chopin piano sheet, he let her go…Relevantly, music protected Lisa and with “Deathless”, Ibeyi want to protect and empower us as well.
There’s an intense outpour of spirituality and wizardry that flows through Ibeyi‘s music. Spirituality from their name which is the Yorùbá word for twins. “Ibeji”‘s are divine twins and considered sacred among the Yorùbá people, with ironically, Yorubaland (Nigeria) possessing one of the world’s highest rates of twin births (about four times above the world average). There is even a fable that says the Ibeji drove away the devil (misfortune) by driving him crazy through playing enchanted drums. The wizardry, from their heritage, especially their father the widely celebrated Afro-Cuban percussionist Angá Díaz, known from the Buena Vista Social Club. Their powerful music is also an act of enchantment, skillfully yoking the modern and the traditional.
Not only intellectually alluring, “Deathless” sees the twin’s idiosyncratic harmonies, sparse drum machines and use of traditional percussion ( cajón and batá drums) deliver an extraordinary sound that is, unmistakably Ibeyi. The sisters’ stark voices blend with their Yoruban roots, the groove of R’n’B, and the experimentation of minimal electronica to create a haunting otherworldly music. Kamasi Washington, the mighty sax virtuoso, adds great character to the single by veering off into slinky, fluttering sax phrases despite his sober initial presence. Watch it below.