Hailed by none other than Seun Kuti as “one of the best things to come out of Lagos”, Nigerian trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong has developed an original style he calls “Earth Music”.
Weaving together a unique combination of not only afrobeat, highlife and jazz, but also the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi, the result is urgent and highly energetic, yet spiritual; his compositions reflecting his heritage and life philosophy of goodwill, peace and love for humanity. Ubong’s music is so vibrant and propulsive that one can easily make comparisons with leading lights of the UK scene, such as the Shabaka Hutchings-led Sons of Kemet, but at the same time it is distinctly Nigerian.
Ubong was invited by Night Dreamer to record at Haarlem’s Artone Studio, home to an enviable collection of vintage mastering and recording equipment and situated right above a pressing plant. He assembled an international ensemble of the highest calibre to record his compositions direct-to-disc, avoiding the interference created by widely adopted recording techniques and capturing his enigmatic live performance in its most natural and explosive form. Ubong is joined by another Lagos-based musician, Michael Awosogo, also on trumpet, and a hand-picked group of UK and Netherlands-based musicians who finally after an impromptu show the night before, recorded the whole album in just one sitting on the last day of the five-day session.
Much of the music is incredibly fast-paced, and politically charged, particularly on titles such as “African Struggle” and “Mass Corruption'', with Ubong featuring on both trumpet and lead vocal, leading a five-piece brass section over the percussion-heavy rhythm section and soulful keys supplied by Vels Trio’s Jack Stephenson-Oliver. Etuk uses music to address not only injustice but also humanity and spirituality, most notably on “Spiritual Change”, a deep cut on which Etuk reflects on Africans need for internal change before they can address the problems around them, stands-out among the rest of the album.