Yao Bobby & Simon Grab - WUM
Amongst the doom, gloom, uncertainty and general anxiety of the last years, it’s been inspiring, and indeed hope-giving to see collaborators Yao Bobby, based in Togo, and Simon Grab, out of Switzerland, stick through hard times and keep pushing on to record this album, despite living around 4500 kilometres apart. A tough challenge during a time of border closures, lockdowns and screen mediated interactions.
During the process of writing and recording the album, they had to navigate a corrupt Togolese government, unfair visa restrictions for outsider access to the fortress of Europe, tour cancellations, lockdowns, parenthood, and all that comes with juggling life and creative energy. If you asked us, we’d say that these challenges are enough proof of a need for this record to exist.
For us, music is about manifesting a kind of spirit of our time, and this album does it. It somehow captures the insanity of the last years, and spits it back with a powerful sense of rebellion. In a world at a kind of (post) colonialist, capitalist boiling point, Yao Bobby & Simon Grab are a loud and proud voice for unity, but not for uniformity.
Yao Bobby & Simon Grab’s music screams, kicks and pulses in an unstoppable, shape-shifting rhythm of sound & voice, driven by this same need for survival, an urgency to create, and to be heard. To manifest the music is a kind of proof of existence, proof of survival. With ‘WUM’, their debut album, Yao & Simon are decorating their future tombstones right now, ready to be remembered in great ways. Not just for making their own kind of story, but for including all of us in it. It’s not a selfish music, but it’s not easy listening either. It’s a music for border-crushing community, for rebellion. Anti-clockwise, anti-fascist. Real people music. Loud, cantankerous and fearless. In 'WUM', cross-wired feedback pulses with its own axis as a time frame, vocals in Éwé the
Togolese tongue, and also French & English... To put it simply: sonically, and lyrically, you’ve never heard anything quite like this.
Turn it up, and lose yourself in waves of low-end, synthesised, unhinged self-oscillating rhythms, and face the unbelievable vocal fire of Yao Bobby...but don’t be fooled by his rough tone, Yao understands the dynamic of sound in a water-like way. There is ebb, there is flow. He dives in and out of Simon’s
sonic feedback system like crashing tides, or subtle currents forming oceans of word-sound. His style is elemental, fluid. Perhaps the only MC in the world who can ride Simon’s unhinged rhythms and frequency dynamics so perfectly.
Musically speaking ’WUM’ is an evolution of their previous two releases on LAVALAVA, whilst opening new pathways into their particular territory of word-sound / rhythm explosiveness. Served up as a mighty twenty track album, it is a definite testament to the determination, and the unstoppable musical power of Yao Bobby & Simon Grab.
Press play and hear the sound of worlds colliding,
crashing, and creating. Much in the spirit of our modern age, ‘WUM’ is full of that unpredictable chaos... The perfect breeding ground for something new.
Ltd Edition 2LP in stunning foil block print sleeve -
Photography by Cédric Kouamé, design by hammer.
1 | A1 - Wakassa (3:51)
2 | A2 - Lekeo (3:14)
3 | A3 - Fagnan (4:27)
4 | A4 - Wum (5:08)
5 | A5 - El Dorado (2:57)
6 | B1 - Keep it (4:12)
7 | B2 - Game (4:24)
8 | B3 - Siguegue (3:41)
9 | B4 - Fiafi (3:35)
10 | B5 - Porto Securo (2:28)
11 | B6 - Nusin (2:06)
12 | C1 - Every Day (4:04)
13 | C2 - Oleyia (4:24)
14 | C3 - Avisi (3:48)
15 | C4 - Nunya (3:45)
16 | C5 - Mozonzon (3:16)
17 | D1 - Tchaka Tchaka (4:40)
18 | D2 - Ahome (7:38)
19 | D3 - Liberez l’Afrik (4:52)
20 | D4 - Pipi (3:01)
Lyrics & Vocals by Yao Amewonou.
Music & Mix by Simon Grab at ganzerplatz.
Mastering by Dan Suter at Echochamber.
Cut by Flo Kaufmann at Bricolage Universel.
Graphic Design by David Schatz and Sereina Rothenberger at hammer.
Photography by Cédric Kouamé.