29 Emeka Ogboh: Beyond the Yellow Haze

OK, joking time is over, if you for some reason feel the desire to ‘mess about‘, then please restrict your foolishness to one of the other records on this list. ‘Beyond the Yellow Haze’ doesn’t deserve your silliness. This is serious shit right here.

The lack of inclusion of Emeka Ogboh’s transcendent debut record on some of the (inferior) album of the year lists that I’ve seen popping up recently greatly concerns me. I just can’t understand how any self-respecting person (freaking journalists, no less!) who claim to have an above passing interest in music can seriously claim that there are many musical collections released this year that are as innovative, as innovatory as Ogboh’s audio poem aimed at the rapid change and urbanisation of his home town. Yes, ‘his home town’. I’m not going to say what home that town may be in, as I’m working it into a ‘bit’ later. Don’t worry about it, you should know by now to simply trust in my journalistic talent and just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as I see where I take you.

The metallic and circular yet somehow comfortingly organic debut album by Mr Ogboh marks several Necessary Evil firsts. Well, it’s the first entry by Emeka Ogboh, obviously, as it’s his first release of recorded music. It’s gestation began, understandably enough, in possibly the most famous club in Germany (where Ogboh resides), Berghain. Less intuitively, it began when COVID-19 shut down all clubs in Germany so Berghain transformed into an art gallery instead, and commissioned a work by Ogboh (‘Ayilara’) that they were so taken aback with they asked if Emeka would be interested in releasing the music used on the cub/art gallery/whatever’s in house record label. Are you keeping up? ‘Beyond the Yellow Haze’ was released on he record label of an art gallery which would be a night club if it weren’t for COVID, got it?

Because, in another Necessary Evil first, Ogboh would probably deny the assumption that he’s any sort of musician at all, or even a music producer. He’s worked as an installation artist for more than a decade, largely working around field recordings of the incessant sounds – traffic horns, street sellers loudly flogging wares, rain, public transport and public transport calls – of his home town. His debut record is actually based upon a 2018 exhibition called ‘No Condition is Permanent’. Maybe that’s why all these uncultured music journalist philistines declined to name it among 2021’s best records, we’re getting cast offs from some shit this guy threw together three years ago!! Christ, Ogboh, you’ve made me look quite the chump here.

Emeka is also the first Nigerian to feature on Necessary Evil, and the place that provides all of the beguiling and hypnotic sound structures on his debut record is the capital city Lagos. Seriously, if you knew anything about Nigeria you probably could have just guessed from his name, but I still enjoyed the illusion. I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to gorge upon a record I might have missed in usual circumstances. I first bought it because my wife at the time was Nigerian, and I was desperate to seek connections to her heritage that I otherwise couldn’t while we both remained locked in our Wilmslow house as an invisible killer stalked the Earth. Eleven months after the record’s January release, I am no longer in contact with my wife, but I’m still very much in love with ‘Beyond the Yellow Haze’. Life gives you some funny kicks to the groin while also kissing your face sometimes, doesn’t it?


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