The Lijadu Sisters

Horizon Unlimited

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Originally released in 1979, Horizon Unlimited was the last album by Nigerian afro-funk sensations the Lijadu Sisters for Decca imprint Afrodisia, and also more or less the last the world heard from the twins until a reissue campaign in the early 2010's. As one of the more successful acts in the Nigerian music scene, these inseparable sisters produced a handful of albums that were raw, funky and had an almost seductive electricity to them. The six tracks on Horizon Unlimited all begin with talking drum, and meld intricate traditional percussion with fluid funk basslines and far-out synthesizer tones, with Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu's glimmering harmonies dead center. Kicking off with the slow-burning afro-beat of political critique "Orere-Elejigbo", the album's production is precise without ever becoming sterile, and deceptively minimal. Incredibly subtle touches of dub echo, slithering guitar lines and ever-shifting polyrhythmic percussion never rise up enough to call attention to themselves, but rather gel into one impenetrable groove after another. Hypnotic numbers like "Erora" sit next to more rock-influenced and upbeat jams like the incredibly sunshiny "Come On Home", each gliding along in a densely repetitive way that never becomes droning. The Lijadu Sister's unique perspective on what pop music was is a large part of what makes Horizon Unlimited and all of their records such fun, refreshing affairs. Completely unassuming and direct, the sisters are unafraid to lay down simple melodies or child-like love songs besides politically charged sentiments. The same "why not?" kind of feeling applies to their grooves. The sizzling synth tones and funky clavinet lines on standout track "Not Any Longer" seem like they should never go together, let alone with the sisters' lackadaisical sing song vocals, but the melting pot approach boils all these offish elements down into one of the album's best tracks. The entire album simmers into one of those repeat-listen classics that can fuel entire summers worth of dance parties. In the end, the details of production and instrumentation mean way less than the joyful feelings the Lijadu Sisters transmit in bold colors, and the only problem with Horizon Unlimited is that it's far too short.

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