«I always try to find the harmony through the noise,» says Stephen Bassene about the electronic dance music he makes as Ibaaku. He is living in a particularly noisy part of Dakar, which bothered the young producer until he realized that it actually had a very positive effect on his soundscapes.
Motorcycles and construction sites are hardly the only sources of inspiration for the album «Alien Cartoon» (2016). After all, it became into being as the soundtrack for a fashion show by Senegalese designer Selly Raby Kane, picturing an African city being invaded by aliens.
Like Kane’s clothes, it’s difficult not to think of Ibaaku’s songs as Afrofuturist. In the music video for «Djula Dance», the first song he wrote for the project, Bassene dance on a desolate moon landscape, while nebulae and archaic deities passes by. The music itself – which is futuristic and primitive at the same time, as dizzying as it is hypnotic – creates the same sense of awe.
Bassene has made beats for Senegalese rappers since the late 90’s, which has made him a key figure in the national hip hop scene. He has however always been considered an eccentric, one that does not fit the genre’s norms. This becomes especially evident with Ibaaku, which reminds us of the music of our times, but sounds like something from another planet.
Text: Kim Klev