Evan Dale // Dec 28, 2019
Alxndr London is one of the most unique sounds in music. The electro-soul experimentalist draws his unique auditory aesthetic from the duality of his foundation. Raised in the UK the son of a Yoruba-rooted family, he has become one of the most underground, yet one of the most influential risk-takers in music. Through nearly half-a-decade of shorter releases, he’s established himself a transcendent force on a London-sourced Neo-Soul scene while simultaneously being a figure in the explosiveness of the art and music coming from the West African Cultural Renaissance. In 2019, Alxndr London released IVMERIN – an 8-track EP exploring the exact coalescence of those cultural roots hand-in-hand with an exploration of soul and electronic music of the past, present, and future.
Talking Drum – IVMERIN’s leading single – first introduced London’s fans to a new chapter. Talking Drum, IVMERIN are less dark than their predecessors, more in tune with London’s electronic roots, and yet, even further entrenched in the rhythm, cadence, and vocals of West Africa. It’s extreme in two directions, and extremely successful in both direction’s circular confluence. Talking Drum in particular, riding the wave of Alxndr London’s unparalleled falsetto, breathes of electric emotionality and life-giving basslines. It was a natural selection for his debut music video.
And naturally, Alxndr London – defined by his one-of-a-kind affinity for jewelry and clothing sourced from any culture he feels musically and aesthetically inspired by – has always been poised for the camera. He’s an artist. And his eye is every bit as experimentally sharp as his ear, his tongue.
The visuals for Talking Drum open as sharply and dramatically as the track does. The thump of a bass, the hum of Alxndr London’s silky soul, and the flash of his face and that of his featuring choreographers across pure white, green velvet. Rhythmic claps introduce the space for Alxndr London to divulge a layered myriad of vocalism as piercing and emotive as any vocalist before him. From there, London struts a beach with a signature cane, and long black robe, juxtaposing the brightness of the background. And in contrast of that image, others bounce back and forth of London in a white robe, gold jewelry flashing overtop a velour green textile behind him.
As his story is told, another is also taking shape. His choreographers, dressed head to toe in white, faces also adorned in white paint in ode to centuries of traditional Yoruba tribal marking, dance gracefully, handing a shimmering gold paper nearly reminiscent of a post-it note between one another. By the end of the video, it has been touched by every dancer and has been shaped into an origami butterfly. So too, figuratively, have the song and the video, continuing, progressing into something dramatic, unendingly beautiful, thought-provoking, yet relatable.
But what happens in Talking Drum’s central point is perhaps what’s least expected, most beautiful, and most thought-provoking. A deep plunge into another space, entirely submerged in water sees two Yoruba women conversing in echo as jellyfish swim about. The song has been reduced to a mere, muffled background, and everyone watching gets lost in the gold eyeliner of the subjects present.
Intensity, beauty, experimentalism, and Afrofuturistic exploration make Talking Drum what it is. And the video – at the vision of director, Almass Badat – is able to capture the mystery, the intrigue, and the risk-taking genius of Alxndr London’s overarching career to this point. It’s not overly produced, it’s not overly budgeted. Instead, it’s raw, artistically maximalist, and aesthetically gorgeous and largely unseen.
Talking Drum is surely a rare choice for favorite video of 2019. Many people haven’t yet heard of Alxndr, and even less have seen the video. But there is no doubt that as Neo-Soul music sourced strongest from the UK and the myriad of media from the West African Cultural Renaissance continues to push forward, Alxndr London, as the most experimentally nuanced coalescence of both lanes, will continue influencing music at a much larger scale. Talking Drum is just the beginning, and yet, the best music video of the year.
See our Comprehensive List of 2019's Best Videos here: