Friday, 09 October 2020 20:11

Eli Fola's 'Soundscape to Freedom' showcases World Beats alongside saxophone riffs and spoken word recitations with timely themes

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Eli Fola Eli Fola

Nigeran born, New York based multi-disciplinary artist, saxophonist, DJ, Producer and talking drummer, Eli Fola is regarded as an avant-garde artist whose forward-thinking compositions places him well before his time. As the creator and pioneer of the genre and live set, Yoruba Tech Soul – a fusion of traditional Nigerian sounds, electronic, jazz, house and classical music – Fola also forges his own path, adding a twist of modernity with tinges of tradition in everything he makes. Known as a saxophone genius, he implements his raw focus on the instrument, fusing his talents with powerful imagery from the Yoruba world.


Having released his first project in 2016, the musical pioneer followed it up in 2017 as he went to make his TED Conference debut under TEDxCUNY as a speaker and performer. He’s performed at the Art Basel No Commission event in Miami, opening for Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, ASAP Rocky and Swizz Beatz. His work has been featured in Wonderland Magazine, Fashion Glossary UK, Okayplayer, Okayafrica and Milk Media. He was recently noted as an act to watch in The New York Times.


In addition, Fola also manages his own label, Techafrique – an NYC-based Afro House and Techno label promoting progressive Black ideas and sounds.


Fola’s music is as moving as it is sensitive. On his latest EP release, Soundscape to Freedom, he focuses on themes of culture and identity to create a powerful message within his music. On the new EP, Fola explores the plight of a Black person in 2020’s America. Through spellbinding soundscapes, he combines his saxophone prowess with house beats and spoken word recitation to create a compelling narrative for the times. According to Fola: “Soundscape to Freedom is inspired by events happening in America: the pandemic, watching the news and police brutality, the killing of innocent Black people. Making music was therapy for the times.  I wanted to create soundscapes for a Black person living in America.”


A six-track EP, Soundscape to Freedom starts out with “Blackness Be Divine,” where vibrant strings create a stirring cadence. A spoken word performance distills a chilling vibe, as percussions underline beneath this track. Dramatic beats also go on to circulate, making for a moving sound. The swirling soundscapes spiral overhead and the hypnotic tones will leave listeners enthralled. The movement of the music builds and as the sound grows, you can really feel the momentum carrying you away as the passion behind the poetry performance becomes more revved. Scattered saxophone riffs makes a prominent appearance. The shimmering presence of the sax denotes a searing appeal. The riffs and sounds dance around the propelling percussion in the backdrop.


Up next is “Ancestral Guide.” Moody beats and rhythms drive at a hard-hitting sound on this song. The vibe felt very hash and aggressive, as Fola changes up the atmosphere of this track mid-song to create a more melodious and harmonious flow. The vibe alternates between hard and soft, contrasting the polar opposites on this techno song with EDM and trance feels. More spoken word gets relinquished here as the music underlines the message with dark treading notes. On “Midnight Fall,” Afro beats add a chilling appeal to this track as tribal chants make up this song. The sounds of the sax are alluring and add a sensual feel. Percussions shake up this track, embellishing an emboldened and enlivened approach to the vibes.


Toward “Then We Danced,” the feeling here contains a jazz-driven soundscape. The atmosphere felt very smooth and soothing. The cool blend continues as eventually the sax joins in. The sound of the sax is lush. Another poetry performance makes itself known. The message, here, is more uplifting. I could detect a fiery Latin flavor pervade underneath the percussions and World Beat vibe. This song will get you moving in no time. On the pure instrumental closer, “Blackness Be Divine,” Fola juxtaposes bold beats with lively percussions. The sound felt very impassioned and I could feel the fire coming from the delivery of the instrumentals. Through the driven sounds, as the track winds to a close, this felt like a dynamic way to finish the album.


Keeping relevant to the times, the artist shows us he is in constant flux, consistently evolving himself and his music. Featuring a vastly visually stimulating sound paired with his biting candor, Fola releases music that embraces authenticity and originality. He stays true to his roots without straying too far from traditions with a sound that keeps to the times with context and textures that will appeal to this generation of music lovers as well as fans of classical music and jazz. You can tell that a lot of thought and energy went behind the making of each track on Soundscape to Freedom with each track standing alone while still remaining consistent as a cohesive whole. Fola shows us through his boundless talents and endless potential that the sky is the limit for this gifted artist. Be sure you have a listen today!


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Eli Fola's 'Soundscape to Freedom'
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