Release Date: Jun 12, 2012
Record label: Ninja Tune
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock
Beneath the evocative tide of the rolling synth waves with which Rispah unfolds, we're briefly allowed to overhear the sound of African chanting—its tribal drumming begging questions of heritage and inheritance. Aptly, this introduction ("A Particle of Love") is interrupted by the dirty groove of "Generational," all interlocking rhythms and slowly unraveling guitar parts. It's soon apparent that Rispah is all about ancestry, the familial and the regrettably familiar.
Most other reviews of Rispah mention the death of Dave Okumu’s mother as the album’s defining feature. Of course, Rispah was written and recorded in the immediate aftermath of this event, so it would be difficult to ignore the impact: Indeed, Okumu has described the album as a “love letter to grief.” However, there is a risk that all of that (and I really don’t mean to belittle such a sad event) is getting in the way of objective opinions of the record. Rispah has so much more to offer.
The Invisible might be from London, but their songs are as unearthly as Boris Johnson’s space-helmet hair. With second album ‘Rispah’ they’ve gone all ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ with booming, space-aged beats. Minimalist starter ‘A Particle of Love’ launches into the unknown with sci-fi instrumentals and otherworldly background chants. ‘Surrender’ voyages over to the ambient sunshine percussion of TV On The Radio with singer/guitarist Dave Okumu’s neurotic vocals beaming through, while penultimate track ‘The Stain’ is haunting – as full of futuristic tension as stormtroopers in The Apprentice boardroom.
If the Invisible's second album seems a bit light on the sprightly space-pop jams that cropped up on their debut, then there's a good reason for that: lead singer Dave Okumu describes this record as a "love letter to grief" following the death of his mother. In fact, the album is largely inspired by the traditional spirituals sung at her funeral, some of which are sampled on here. The band are technically gifted – Leo Taylor's drumming recalling Afrobeat, jazz and electronica – and at times the results can be mesmerising, as on Wings, which unfurls gracefully.
A set of contemplation and catharsis, maintaining its emotional grip for a long time. Mike Diver 2012 Terrible things can happen to terrific people. Just ahead of the release of this second LP from Mercury Prize-nominated trio The Invisible, genial frontman Dave Okumu severely injured himself on-stage in Nigeria. He’s out of action for a while, putting the (live) promotion of Rispah on hold.
When 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.