Under Review

Tonye Aganaba

Something Comfortable

(Ocean Surf Sounds); 26/10/2019

Afrodykie Zoe

Something Comfortable is not your typical LP— maybe because each of its eleven tracks are, by themselves, a portal. Maybe because this record acts as the score to Tonye’s AfroScience. Maybe because Tonye is actually a world building, shape-shifting, time travelling creative — notorious for conjuring and creating intimate experiences, while evoking a vulnerability which leaves our Spirit wanting more. 

Produced by Aaron Hamlin and Tonye Aganaba of Ocean Surf Sounds, Something Comfortable dropped in March of 2019 and acts as the score alongside Aganaba’s work, AfroScience. Inspired by their journey with multiple sclerosis, AfroScience is an immersive performance and workshop series that fuses live music, visual art, dance, and storytelling as a way to spark dialogue, Especially on the axis of identity, addiction, expression and healing we all may find ourselves on. The eleven images generated for the AfroScience project, housed at the Cheeky Proletariat gallery, correspond — albeit ambiguously — to the eleven tracks of the record.

Gifting us with a vast collection of instrumentals from harps and flutes, to horns and congas, she thoughtfully brings together the jazzy, funky stylings of icons such as Dutch Robinson, Alex Maher and Khari Wendall Mclelland. Tonye intentionally crafted a work that is layered, nuanced and entices us to listen over and over again.

Electric guitar solos that act as verses, and dampened ivory arpeggios, have you gently slipping into spaces of ease wherever you may find yourself. Playful, staccato rhythms, and smooth lyrics are paired with percussive vocal free-styling — like in the track, “Got to Know,” — take you to a deeper, more delicious place as you drip, slip, ooze into funky self-love tracks like “Sugar,” and “We Ain’t Friends.” ‘90s throwback bops like “CC,” give off serious Lauryn Hill vibes with the mantra “Love is the drug that I’m missing.”

“Borrowed Time” is a sincere ballad where Tonye’s voice acts as an anchor while melodies oscillate between the infinite and finely tuned harmonies of choral whisperings — reminding you the dream-like state you have settled into is ephemeral. The use of the harp and triangle lead you into raw vocals and honest lyrics like, “Excuse me / While I’m trip-ping / Out again.” 

“Do it Sweetly” is as haunting as it is warm. Long sax notes hold even longer, as though you are watching the notes leave your body too. The kick drum and high hat provide a soft and reassuring foundation, while Tonye’s voice fills the remaining space — fills your body. “[Music] has been a way for me to work through my mental, emotional and physical trauma, and put it in a place that is safe.”

Like a key inside the right lock, these vibrations fit. On Something Comfortable, you are held, seen, at home