OY@Electron Festival Geneva

Oy_press2_Andi_ZantWelcome to the OY experience – another intoxicatingly, left-of-centre, musical adventure dispelling all myths that life is unexotic in Switzerland.

This highly creative duo is made up of Joy Frempong: Swiss/Ghanaian vocalist, composer, story teller, sound sampler – and Lleluja-Ha: drummer, writer, producer. Their on stage appearance already communicates that you’re in for an outlandish and unique evening. Joy is like an elegant gazelle, all height and hair, dressed in colourful childlike patterns exuding both innocence and depth; Lleluja-Ha, possibly a lost member of Sun Ra’s arkestra, is shrouded within engulfing high priest regalia and remains the enigmatic driving force behind the entire show.

Here, on the 30th of March 2013, to promote their newly-released 2nd album – Kokokyinaka – on Creaked Records, their sound is a refreshing, improvised breeze of African-influenced electronica based on a road trip that absorbed sounds and experiences from Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and South Africa. Tales, proverbs and folklore were gathered along the way to be retold in an experimental, kaleidoscopic style, at times dark and mercurial, other times as joyful as walking through an African market place.

Graced with ambidextrous talents, Joy is busy at the controls of her many synths and sound machines, often sampling her voice and playing it back as haunting accompaniment or backing vocals. An impressive wall of sound is often created between herself and partner as in ‘Chicken Beer’, where dark voice effects and heavy synth rhythms clash with swirling drum beats as menacing as a locust storm. Contrast this with a playful singing voice that combines rare soothing sweetness and reassuring confidence, (I imagined Joy singing me the last rites and how delightful it would sound). Songs about bizarre name choices ‘My name is happy’ and the sexual politics of hair ‘Halleluja Hair’ are pure poetry in motion full of observational delight and personal fire. Her seductive speaking voice entertains us with tales of how you should “never run to a funeral if you’re late” or how Ghanaians believe that “every mistake is a new style”.

If she fancied reading out the local Chinese take-away menu I think most of the audience would have happily listened. There was a lot of love in the room for this band. OY exude compassionate observation of humanity and wrap it up in multi-textured, exhuberant electronic soundscapes. The slightly drunken man standing next to me kept muttering “I’m in love with the singer, she makes me feel love, she makes me feel things I’ve never felt before”. He wasn’t wrong.

Joy Frempong – vocals, sampler, synths, sound machines. Leluja-Ha – drums, production
Oy, Kokokyinaka (Creaked Record)

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