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hejira - Prayer Before Birth
"Formed in 2010, Hejira are Sam Beste, Rahel Debebe-Dessalegne, Alexis Nunez and Alex Reeve - a group of Londoners with a diverse collective heritage spanning the entire globe from Chile and Hungary through to Ethiopia and Germany. Borne of many years of experience performing individually in a bewildering amount of styles with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Tom Jones, Nitin Sawhney, Eric Lau and Connan Mockasin, the band seek to build this musicianship into an uncompromisingly visceral, passionate yet tender sound. Prayer Before Birth plays out like an ensemble-piece, a debut of rare composure that possesses a questing musical sensibility. There is a delicate orchestration to their playing and arrangements that has more in common with symphonic classical music than rock. Immerse yourself in the celestial choral crunk of their latest single ‘Litmus Test’, or the hymn-like ode to London’s psychogeographic emotional pull in Fields of Rooftops. The title track from their previous 7-inch vinyl release, Gypsy of the Soul, unfolds like prime Funkadelic, harmony atop harmony, before blending into Echoes, the record’s explosive and hypnotic centrepiece. Then there’s In Our Own Time in all its slowburning splendour and Time, which features the interweaving male female lead vocals that is a cornerstone of the Hejira sound. Full of gentle surprises, the whole project feels unhindered by compromise or a desire to please. As a consequence, it makes for a magnetic, engaging listen. Giving shape to this heady stew of sound is creative polymath and electronic music iconoclast, Matthew Herbert who began co-producing Hejira in 2010."