By Matt BauerWhen the Invisible dropped their Mercury Prize nominated self-titled debut in 2009, the London, UK-based trio were hailed as "the British TV On the Radio" and the comparison seemed particularly apt since first single "London Girl" possessed more than a passing resemblance to that Brooklyn, NY collective's spacey, funk-tinged sound. Follow-up Rispah (named after singer/guitarist Dave Okumu's late mother, who passed away during recording and whose death informed the music and subject matter of the album) is an entirely different experience. Tom Herbert's off-kilter synths and samples of the traditional Kenyan spirituals sung during Okumu's mother's funeral (and are also integrated throughout the album) open the set with a dark, plaintive mood, as the first lyrics uttered are, "This is serious." Drummer Leo Taylor's insistent and near-polyrhythmic beats, and Herbert's bass form a bed-rock rhythm section that drives Okumu's spectral guitar and eerie, echo-drenched vocals into a fatalistic post-punk/funk groove on "Generational," while the yearning, Beach Boys-style harmonies and psychedelic synthesizers colouring "What Happened" are a sunny reprieve from the melancholic ambience. Despite its heavy subject matter, Rispah remains an eminently listenable release; it's proof of that somewhat clichéd adage that pain fuels great art.
Read an interview with the Invisible here. (Ninja Tune)