International Pop Underground: ÌFÉ's Afro-Caribbean Jams Summon Religious Ritual, Radical Politics
ÌFÉ is the recording project for Otura Mun, an African-American musician who spent 21 years living in Puerto Rico. As well as making music, Mun is a babalawo, a priest of the Yoruba religion Ifá. In turn, his music summons religious rituals, and notions of healing through ceremony and spirituality.
Seamlessly blending organic and electronic percussion —Mun builds electronic triggers into traditional hand percussion instruments— ÌFÉ's jazzy jams often directly refer to the signs and spirits of Ifá.
In a wide-ranging interview on The International Underground, Mun talks about the huge subjects —spiritual worship, generational trauma, destroying American myth— that are being explored on ÌFÉ's albums, 2017's IIII+IIII and 2021's 0000+0000. Influenced by both X-Men comics and Ifá symbology, Mun sees the LPs as a pair, works that reflect the other.
"IIII+IIII, which is the first record, is about pure light. It is a masculine sign, it is the beginnings of things," Mun explains. "The second sign in the Ifá corpus is 0000+0000, and it is the opposite of that. Darkness is born, death is born, femininity. So if IIII+IIII is expansion, 0000+0000 is contraction. It's almost like yin and yang, life and death, part 1 and 2."
Feature image: Trenity Thomas