One of the most intriguing albums I’ve bought in 2019 comes from Vieo Abiungo. I discovered ‘The Dregs’ via William Ryan Fritch and Lost Tribe Sounds by accident and Abiungo fits their world perfectly. I didn’t realise initially that Abiungo is a moniker for Fritch himself. Even if the name is different, you can hear the DNA through the music.
Abiungo creates an unusual and unsettling folksy African vibe and mixes it with ancient horror soundscapes. It evokes a ritual of sorts but in a storyteller way. Some tracks are melodic like ‘What the Rain Restores’. Other pieces like ‘A Branch Gave Way’ could be placed into a film as a tension piece. ‘Takamba II’ illustrates a third vein too where the music takes on a pilgrimage of sorts. It is straight-up world music fused with a bit of Dead Can Dance gothic vibes for good measure.
The music palette is so varied and vast yet cohesive. The percussion is analogue and full of drums, tuned percussion, bones and claps. Harps, balafons, kalimbas and all kinds of plucked guitars are hiding in the music too. There is also the use of synths and ambience too. One thing I love in the production is how certain instrument sections fade in and out. This makes it feel like the music is moving around you thus changing your focus.
Across the album, it feels like you are taking musical journey. As you move from track to track not only does the mood change but the instrumentation does too. ‘Swagger’ for example could pass as Native Indian almost. One thing that is constant throughout is the twisting and bending string arrangement. Just as he does under his original stage name, Vieo Abiungo uses the strings like a character. Sometimes spacious, sometimes lethargic, sometimes weather-worn but soaring high – I feel like it colours your mood.
Vieo Abiungo has created an unsung masterpiece if soundtrack storytelling with ‘The Dregs’. Its ever-shifting melodic hunt for home is spellbinding. Every two minutes something new and interesting pops up to keep you on your toes. A true delight from start to finish.
Recommended track: Takamba II
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