Jan 23, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Dave Okumu, singer/guitarist with London three-piece The Invisible, is releasing a new album, I Came From Love, under the name Dave Okumu & The 7 Generations, on April 14 via Transgressive. Now he has shared its second single, “Black Firework.” It is part of a short film, The Intolerable Suffering of (The) Other, which is the second of a four-part series directed by Nicolas Premier. Watch and listen below.
Okumu had this to say about the new song in a press release: “Chapter 2 from my album continues to explore aspects of the Black experience from different perspectives. It contains a vital recitation by the poet Anthony Joseph of an extract from Aime Cesaire’s glorious poem ‘Return To My Native Land’ (‘My Negritude’), a rumination on the price of minority survival (‘The Cost’) featuring Madinkra aka Kwabs, a stunning performance from Cesa Empress aka Wesley Joseph (‘Prison’) and the central track, ‘Black Firework,’ with contributions from Magic Woman aka Eska, Madinkra and Cesa Empress. The genesis of this song is attributed to my 5-year-old son, Django who claimed to see black fireworks whilst watching a display. This became a vivid metaphor for a feeling I hold around the valuation of Black culture, something which is in magnificent repetitious ascendancy but is rarely engaged with in its full radiance. Two of the four tracks feature the sublime drumming of Tom Skinner (The Smile/Sons of Kemet), as well as contributions from Aviram Barath (Wesley Joseph and Loyle Carner’s MD) and Nick Ramm (The Cinematic Orchestra) on keyboards. This music is an invitation to see the unseen.”
Premier had this to say: “‘7 Generations,’ the track which features in chapter one of the album and also in this video, probably reflects one of the project features that resonates with me the most, which is the notion of transmission, the process by which you pass the light, your experiences to the next generation. It gave me a great context to work around a concept that I really like, the idea that life is a never-ending cycle where everything is continuously transforming, an approach that challenges the common understanding of generations in the West, which is more or less linear and chronological, with something much more circular. I also question the possibility for one to recognize oneself in the eyes of the next generation. It’s a game between seeing yourself in today’s children and an introspective quest, looking inward to see how far you have or have not diverged from the original values of the kid you were, what has survived from that pivotal time and to what extent you will pass that on to the world that will follow you.”
Okumu had this to say about the new album in a previous press release: “The narrative of this record emerged in tandem with the origin of its musical journey, through a rumination on survival, ancestry and heritage. The account of the young west African girl who was transported to South Carolina in 1756 and sold to the slave owner Elias Ball and the subsequent unearthing and presentation of her story to her descendants became an emblematic framework for these songs, opening doors to many aspects of the diasporic experience. The music stands in loving defiance of any forces that would seek to disconnect us from our collective history. As I consciously stand before my ancestors through the medium of this sound world, I proclaim that ‘You survived so I might live.’”
Okumu’s previous solo album, Knopperz, came out in 2021 via Transgressive.
The Invisible’s self-titled debut album was nominated for The Mercury Prize in 2009 and Okumu produced and sang on Jessie Ware’s acclaimed debut album. Since then he’s also worked with Arlo Parks, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, St Vincent, Tony Allen, Grace Jones, David Lynch, and Adele. The last album by The Invisible (which also features Tom Herbert and Leo Taylor) was 2016’s Patience.