Hard to categorize Nigerian singer, songwriter, and performer Wayne Snow, who now resides in Berlin, has come up with his sophomore album “Figurine”, released on the French Roche Musique label, based in Paris. Hailed by some music mags as the next breakthrough artist, “Figurine” comes three years after his debut “Freedom TV”, which came out on Tartelet and featured the still brilliant “Red Runner”, produced by Max Graef.
African beats are combined here with nu jazz patterns, strong R&B and soul, and lots of churning synths, like on “Nina”, one of the standout, irresistible tracks with early to mid 80s keyboards. The idea of various indentities and its problems and solutions which come with it, seems to be the recurrent theme of the album, which starts off with the pretty melancholic title track. Afrofuturism is behind the amazingly creeping and mesmerizing “Seventy”, another highlight of this very entertaining set of ten pieces. Alluring, intoxicating stuff. Sullen sounds. Emphatic voice.
There are more seductive sounds here, like on the feverish “Number One” or the ultra sexy “The Thrill”, one of three pieces which also came out with an accompanying video which are all worth to be checked out as well. The video to “Seventy” for example is “an incarnation of my wish to evoke the raw beauty of my homeland.” You might as well describe this album as a very cinematic affair, with each track holding its own theme, always changing, never stalling. And yet, it is a very coherent one. Check out the very soulful “Relativity”, which all of a sudden opens up to a different mood and style with the inserting synth sounds, giving it a strange and curious spin.
So what does he mean by a figurine? “A figurine to me is a kind of static puppet onto which artificial emotions can be projected. These are still powerful, but they do not come from within. Much like surface emotions that humans display in order to hide what we truly feel.” The overall surrealness of the album probably comes across best on the haunting “FOM”, where Wayne asks “is she a friend of mine? I’m wondering if it could be that she woke up something in me”. The accompanying guitar, drums, and vocals all add to the mysteriousness. French DJ ans producer Crayon seems to find the perfect cushion and backdrop for the pensive lyrics. And “love is facelss/the same for everyone”, he ponders on the very intimate and merciful “Faceless”.
On the album closer “Magnetic”, Wayne is accompanied by Oscar Jerome, another future soul/nu jazz artist in his own right. This is quiet a trip. The album with its striking cover art is also out on vinyl. Don’t miss. And don’t miss Wayne on tour:
10/30 Paris – La Boule Noire
12/08 Berlin – Gretchen
01/18 Bristol – The Exchange
01/20 Manchester – The Blues Kitchen
01/21 Leeds – Headrow House
01/22 London – Jazz Café
01/26 Madrid – Sala Clamores
01/27 Barcelona – La Nau