Immy Owusu’s debut LP LO-LIFE! draws on the work of West African giants such as Ebo Taylor and William Onyeabor as well as psychedelic troubadors like Rodriguez. Immy’s sound, which he describes as “lo-fi highlife” is a synthesis of his Ghanaian roots and his own experiences growing up in coastal Australia. Immanuel Kwabena Dreessens-Owusu grew up in two worlds: the sea bleached lifestyle of the Australian Surf Coast with its rock n roll soundtrack, and the musical heritage of his Ghanaian / Dutch family. Immy’s father Kojo Noah Owusu is one of Australia’s best regarded West African musicians and his grandfather Koo Nimo is a legend of Ghanaian Highlife and Palm Wine music active since the 1960s. From them Immy learned Asanti music and its instruments, added a fuzz pedal and began to experiment.
LO-LIFE! was live-tracked with an all-star band, featuring members of Surprise Chef, Karate Boogaloo and The Senegambian Jazz Band. Immy’s voice, singing in both English and Twi, is commanding throughout the record while the band weaves its magic around him. Immy’s delicate fingerpicked electric guitar dances around, anchored by Lachlan Stuckey’s hypnotic riffs on the second guitar, Henry Jenkins’ pulsing bass and Julius Sackey’s deft drums. Jethro Curtin’s quirky monosynth leads take center stage when Immy isn’t leading and Kojo blesses the sessions with Kpanlogo drum rhythms, Akan drum appellations and a rambunctious talking drum overdubs that interject and comment throughout. The final touch is provided by the powerful backing vocals of Kuukua Acquah, Pia Nesvara, Izzy Adjei and Julius Sackey.
From the opening fanfare of Appellation Of Elevation, the album grows through the kaleidoscopic Afro Disco of Flashback and the hypnotic Holy Shoulders, reaching a crescendo with the choir led The World Is Here For You and the simmering highlife groove of What A Love. The second half of the record favours longer songs where the band can stretch out, with the rolling 6/8 groove of Sunsum Dware, ‘Take Five meets Afro-Rock’ Nyame Kasa and the afrobeat inspired Right With No Wrong rounding out the album before the delicate epilogue provided by Palm Wine Elixir pays tribute to Immy’s family’s roots.
Immy’s previous releases on Hopestreet Mantra and Brown Supremacy, received rave reviews and substantial airplay around the world including on BBC6, Worldwide FM, NTS, KEXP, Bandcamp Weekly and more and was included in mixes and playlists by Dangermouse among others. This album takes Immy’s creative process out of the computer and into a live format and showcases a new side to his sound.