Skai Lounge has been pushing the boundaries of Afro-dance music for a while – albeit quietly. His 2019 EP, Night Sky Cinema, combined trip-hop and ambience as he spun a love story in five parts. But this time around he’s taken a different, slightly more ambitious, tack.
Ebony Rising is a fleeting ode to desire, black pride, and embracing the unknown. He brought on the vocal prowess of childhood friend Tanaka to lend some lyrics to the mix and the result is a progressive neo-African dance EP bred for the dance floor and your evening frivolities alike.
Where Skai shines is with his knife-sharp production. Pillowy beats provide an undertow to every track, lending the entire EP an ongoing pulse – while traditional, organic acoustic textures inject themselves in turn. Opener “It Feels Good To Feel Good” is effortlessly atmospheric and groovy, “Porcelain Hearts” gets romantic against a chiming piano melody, while “It Feels Good To Be From Afrika” gets patriotic and proud in equal measure.
But it’s closer “Dance of Darkness”, which clocks in at precisely seven minutes, which melodically bleeds a little darker. A late-night techno beat backs it up, heady percussive textures flesh it out, while Tanaka waxes sentimental as the atypical love song unfolds.
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And it goes even deeper – being a very personal album for Skai himself. “It’s for those Black misfits like myself,” he explains. “Who are trying to get something out and express a part of themselves but have continuously had their voice suppressed in a number of ways.” Well he’s certainly expressing himself now, and I hope you’re listening.
Feature pic supplied by artist