Who | Petite Noir
When | Monday, March 7
Where | Kantine am Berghain, Berlin
Music can often be a crystal clear indicator of its creator’s background. In no case is this more true than of Yannick Ilunga, aka Petite Noir. His starkly eclectic sound is as all over the musical map as his heritage is all over the world map. Now based in the UK, the Belgium-born Cape Town native boasts ancestral roots in the Democractic Republic of Congo and Angola, all of which is immediately apparent when listening to his music, which is a dizzying mix of darkwave, 80s electro, post-punk, R&B, and French rap steeped in African and caribbean musical traditions. Ilunga’s vocal timbre is rich and varied, at times possessing a feminine quality akin to that of Antony Hegarty, and at others adopting the deep baritone sound typified by the likes of David Bowie and Ian Curtis. In his 2015 debut LP, La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful, Ilunga seamlessly weaves all of these influences together to create a unique sound that is all his own, making for an incredibly refreshing and engaging standout record.
For fans of: Blood Orange, FKA twigs, Glass Animals
Who | Hey Elbow
When | Wednesday, March 9
Where | ACUD, Berlin
For a band with only three members, Sweden’s Hey Elbow have an impressively massive sound. Their songs feature lush synth soundscapes, reverberating percussion, majestic horn passages, and swelling choruses with tribal call-and-response sections, setting a vivid scene and immersing listeners in the atmosphere. The Malmö-based trio tap into their jazz backgrounds as inspiration for their intricate songwriting and unorthodox melodic choices, while still maintaining the ability to draw you in and keep you hooked. The centerpiece, however, has to be the singing by Julia Ringdahl, whose striking voice has a presence that simply demands attention. Their recently-released debut album, Every Other, certainly has its more subdued moments, however, where in place of cinematic, dense composition, it’s the tender sparseness that speaks volumes. Essentially, Hey Elbow‘s music is a perfectly executed balancing act: experimental yet accessible, grandiose yet intimate.
For fans of: Highasakite, Mew, Sigur Rós