Experimental pop duo Ibeyi have been releasing music together since 2015. Comprised of sisters Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz, the duo’s original songs manage to feel both timeless and radical; their recent “moodboard” shared over at Pitchfork—which features 20th century collage artists alongside eternal touchpoints, like The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead—offers some indication of the enduring and diverse palette that informs their latest album Spell 31, out earlier this month.
Amid Ibeyi’s compelling creative universe, it’s a surprise that the duo haven’t incorporated covers into their live shows or recorded repertoire more often. The pair took on Rufus & Chaka Khan for BBC Radio 1’s Piano Sessions in 2017 and, off and on through the years, have performed a deep cut from rapper-producer Jay Electronica on various tour dates. But beyond these instances, the due have seemingly kept others’ material off the books. The new album remedies this in a big way though — at the center of Spell 31, practically in spotlight placement, is a haunting and instantly iconic cover pick: Ibeyi’s take on Black Flag’s “Rise Above.”
Though Dirty Projectors’ singular cover—drawn from their 2007 album of the same name—remains a high watermark, that group’s arty, airy take seems to have little bearing in how Ibeyi approach “Rise Above.” The sisters Diaz dig in far deeper on their haunting, heavy version, with gritty, roving bass tones, resounding claps and big, fortifying harmonies that ground the tune in a kind of collective resolve. The Song becomes less about nihilistic escape and avoidance, and more an anthem of solidarity in Ibeyi’s hands — the duo even loop in East London rapper BERWYN for a new verse, affirming “Rise Above”‘s new locked-arms spirit.
Check out Ibeyi’s cover of Black Flag’s “Rise Above” below.