1

Adams Adeosun

With each album, Brymo recedes from loudspeakers and folds himself deeper into the hearts of listeners, thriving on the same culture of stanning that created Beyonce's Beyhive.

In a time when alternative musicians turn pop singers overnight, Brymo has endured, loyal to his music and to himself. It is easy to trundle over to the camp that agrees that Brymo’s music is a mystery that requires an elevated sensibility to be appreciated. He opens a concert at a literary festival; two years and several other performers later, the festival dreams about him still. But there is also the suspicion that his elitism and supposed mystery is only arrogance of the type that accompanies everything professing to be high art.

Brymo's sixth album Oso offers 11 sublime tracks that obsess over relationships: with people (lovers, public figures), with concepts, with God – to whom we are introduced in 'God is in Your Mind' as a person and as concept.

You’re that someone you think you’re looking for…
For the first time, gods are we, without a face…

In Oso, Brymo transforms from Klitoris’s Pollyanna to philosopher. He is an observer and judge. Olumo ignores the Miami and Lagos of pop music to invoke the ancient Yoruba town Ake. He favours Soyinka over shawty and allows the talking drum roam Abeokuta with him. The album title, translated Wizard, suggests that Brymo is reaching ...

With each album, Brymo recedes from loudspeakers and folds himself deeper into the hearts of listeners, thriving on the same culture of stanning that created Beyonce’s Beyhive.

In a time when alternative musicians turn pop singers overnight, Brymo has endured, loyal to his music and to himself. It is easy to trundle over to the camp that agrees that Brymo’s music is a mystery that requires an elevated sensibility to be appreciated. He opens a concert at a literary festival; two years and several other performers later, the festival dreams about him still. But there is also the suspicion that his elitism and supposed mystery is only arrogance of the type that accompanies everything professing to be high art.

Brymo’s sixth album Oso offers 11 sublime tracks that obsess over relationships: with people (lovers, public figures), with concepts, with God – to whom we are introduced in ‘God is in Your Mind’ as a person and as concept.

You’re that someone you think you’re looking for…
For the first time, gods are we, without a face…

In Oso, Brymo transforms from Klitoris’s Pollyanna to philosopher. He is an observer and judge. Olumo ignores the Miami and Lagos of pop music to invoke the ancient Yoruba town Ake. He favours Soyinka over shawty and allows the talking drum roam Abeokuta with him. The album title, translated Wizard, suggests that Brymo is reaching for mastery. He comes close but occasionally falters.

Heya is reminiscent of nursery rhymes – too simplistic for the complexity of its subjects. It might seem like an attempt at minimalism if you factor that this nursery rhyme is set against a solo piano. Brymo acknowledges the friction of relationships, speaks to the lovelorn and returns us to his childhood. It is enough that the wizard understands the human condition.

The album is set so firmly against time that it seems like a time travel is about to begin. In the less than 40 minutes between ‘No Be Me’ (She talk say time no dey her side o, say for her world day dey quick dark o), which sets the tone, the musician’s voice weaving into the jazz instrumental like it is a musical instrument itself, and ‘Ba’nuso’, which rides on the aphoristic nature of the Yoruba language, Brymo bewitches the listener.

‘Mama’ has Brymo lamenting to his mother, wondering if he is not at the end of his string yet. Typically, this personal cogitation broadens to indict the whole world and by the end of the interlude he has arrived at a notion that “the world na the same since you born me for hia”. One has to wonder why ‘Mama’ does not serve as Oso’s intro.

The absence of a featured artist on the album becomes obvious on ‘Entropy’, where Brymo slurs his words over an intense but gentle mix of percussion and strings in the careful habit of a lover picking his words, undecided between appeasing his lover and letting her go – this is the entropy. This love ballad could use a little softening – a feminine tone interpolating at intervals or singing along in the background.

There is a sense of ambivalence in ‘Patience and Goodluck’, which sounds like a number for the struggling but the facetious title and the evocation of seasons suggest an even deeper concern: a commiseration with the people, victims of successive incompetent governments.

Leaning on the musicality of the language, ‘Olanrewaju’ borrows from the tradition of Yoruba storytelling and peddles nostalgia for simpler days – “Ọlanrewaju ọmọ oba, e ma suure da gba o. Won ni ko ṣe were, roora ṣe.” It is reminiscent of Yoruba choruses inserted into folktales to teach morals. It is Oso’s most deliberate song, marrying content and delivery seamlessly.

In ‘Money Launderers and Heartbreakers’, Brymo takes the same lyrics that had the intelligentsia frowning at 9ice’s ‘Living Things’, polishes them and spins a groovy, if cerebral, song that the establishment can nod and tap their feet to. (“All we do is win, win. We grind when you sleep, sleep.”) The wizard has hoodwinked us.

Oso shows an upswing in the conversation between Brymo and music, something you wouldn’t think possible after Klitoris. Listening to it one almost feels like an eavesdropper, an intruder to an exchange between one man and his god.

Share this!