Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor
Little is known about William Onyeabor, and that's the way he likes it. Sure, you might hear something about him if you go to Enugu, a rural and isolated town in Eastern Nigeria, where he lives in a hidden palace in the woods. As a crowned High Chief of his Igbo village, he is arbiter of his community. He also rejoices in expanding Nigeria's energetic Christian music scene. The man is not in hiding. But he has turned his back on the music that made him a star to Enugu youth in the turbulent 1980s. Read More...
William Onyeabor is the greatest electronic musician you never heard of. Born outside Enugu, a small, rural town in Eastern Nigeria, he created his own genre of African electronic funk in the late 70s and early 80s, making music completely unique for his time. Today, he is reaching cult status among a growing list of admirers, including everyone from Damon Albarn and Hot Chip to Carl Craig and Madlib, with some likening him to the Kraftwerk of West Africa, or a precursor to LCD Soundsystem.
Among the crate-digging few that know of him today, he is considered a complete myth. While he has never performed live and never given interviews, his fantastical biography is scattered and has to this day not been verified. And, though he is still alive, he refuses to speak about anything regarding the past.
According to various rumors, he left home following the Biafran War and went to study cinematography in the Soviet Union, returning in the mid-70s to start his own film company and record label, Wilfilms. He then self-released eight remarkable records from 1978-1985. He wrote and produced everything on his own, and played every instrument himself. Then, at some point of his life, he denounced his earlier music, deciding it is something he would never speak about again.
In 2008 Luaka Bop, began working on reissuing William Onyeabor’s music. What seemed like an easy arrangement, and while many were bootlegging him around the world, it took more than five years of waiting until Mr. Onyeabor agreed to sign the contract for the compilation. However, and although he was happy for us to release his music again – he refused to take part in any way – not even to be interviewed for the album notes or anything that would help promote the music.
Since we knew that William Onyeabor wouldn’t be available to perform his music live – Luaka Bop worked for more than a year to bring together a group of world famous musicians to perform his music live. ATOMIC BOMB” is an amazing ever changing and evolving, all-star lineup of artists performing the futuristic, synth-heavy, electronic Afro-funk of the great West African synth pioneer, William Onyeabor. Added on top of a core band made up of Sinkane, Money Mark and Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem) are guest performers like Damon Albarn, David Byrne, Joshua Redman, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Luke Jenner (The Rapture), Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), The Lijadu Sisters, Ghostpoet and many more. The fact is this project is open ended enough to incorporate almost any artists (wanna sing?).”
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Meltdown performance called the biggest explosion of positivity on The Telegraph
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Meltdown performance reviewed on The Independent
- Atomic Bomb! Band coordinator Sinkane interviewed in the Guardian
- Atomic Bomb! Band appears at WOMAD 2 -- The arts desk
- Atomic Bomb! Band musical coordinator Sinkane interviewed by the 405
- William Onyearbor's "Who Is William Onyearbor?" receives a 8.6 on Pitchfork
- William Onyearbor's "Who Is William Onyearbor?" is the one album you should buy this week
- William Onyearbor's "Who Is William Onyearbor?" discussed by Eric Welles on The Guardian
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyearbor's show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music reviewed by The New York Times
- William Onyearbor discussed by The New York Times
- William Onyearbor's "Who Is William Onyearbor?" listed 4th on TIME's 'Top 10 of Everything: Arts and Entertainment'
- William Onyeabor's documentary, 'Fantastic Man', is streaming on Pitchfork
- William Onyeabor's 'Box Set' receives 9.0 on Pitchfork
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor: 'Fantastic Man' - A Film About William Onyeabor
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Greek Theatre performance review in Hollywood Reporter
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor special presentation video on Pitchfork
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Barbican review in The Quietus
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Barbican review in Financial Times
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor BAM rehearsal pics in Brooklyn Vegan
- Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor Colston Hall review in Bristol Post