Album Review: Emeka Ogboh – Beyond The Yellow Haze

Nigerian sound and installation artist Emeka Ogboh has released his new album Beyond The Yellow Haze on Ostgut Ton sublabel A-TON. An album you may not want to take on the road with you, the five-track record combines field records from his Lagos with hypnotic electronic music productions and rhythms, plus a nod to his current home city of Berlin.

The album was originally integrated into an installation made for his first solo exhibition, No Condition Is Permanent, which took place in Paris at Iman Fares in 2018.

The LP contains a cornucopia of different sounds as a new world envelops you. If you live out in the country and aren’t used to masses of people or car honking, then buckle up for something a bit different. It contains an orchestra of honking, motors, sound systems, sidewalk sales pitches and other sounds from bus stations you might only hear in Lagos. Writing this from Brooklyn on a street where the sonic vibrations of street racers, garbage trucks and police sirens pierce the air 24/7, I am used to this noise, but there is something quite unique about these field recordings.

The blending of these street sounds and his carefully crafted production creates an immersive world for you to step into. There are moments when the street sounds disappear, bringing you back into a studio or club like on the opener “Lekki Aiah Freeway” before the distant sounds of the real world slowly come back into focus. The track has another symbolic importance with the #EndSARS movement where at the Lekki Toll Gate, the Nigerian army massacred unarmed protestors in October.

The album mostly revolves around the intersection of those two worlds – the Lagos streets and dancefloor (or the illusion of it at this point). On “Palm Groove,” he comes wavering synths with a voice in the distance chanting something as the world passes you by. “Eeverydaywehustlin” has a bit more grittiness to its grooves. His background as a sound artist makes it very easy for you to close your eyes and become immersed in this world he has created, bridging the real and fictional.

Beyond The Yellow Haze brings a very real world sound to an electronic album. Though it was a sound installation at the beginning, it feels much more then that. It brings the energy and vibrancy of the streets of Lagos with a tempered groove and grit from Berlin. This mixing of cultures and sounds helps makes this a great record.

Listen to the LP now below and get it in physical or digital versions.