A highlight of David Byrne's Meltdown in 2015, Atomic Bomb! showcased the music of William Onyeabor, the greatest electronic musician you never heard of.
Atomic Bomb! is the all-star group that plays his music.
Brought together by Luaka Bop, Atomic Bomb! is an ever-evolving line-up of artists who perform the futuristic, synth-heavy, electronic Afro-funk of this West African synth pioneer. A core band comprising Sinkane, Money Mark and Sarah Jones (Hot Chip) is complemented by vocals from David Byrne, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), and Mahotella Queens.
Born outside Enugu – a small, rural town in Eastern Nigeria – William Onyeabor created his own genre of African electronic funk in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
According to rumours, he left home following the Biafran War and went to study cinematography in the Soviet Union, returning in the mid-1970s to start his own film company and record label, Wilfilms. From 1978 – 1985, he self-released eight remarkable records, writing and producing all of the music and playing every instrument himself. Then, at some point, he denounced his earlier music, deciding it was something he would never speak about again.
Before his death in January 2017, he reached cult status, with a list of admirers including Damon Albarn, Hot Chip, Carl Craig and Madlib. Onyeabor has been likened to a prototype LCD Soundsystem, or the Kraftwerk of West Africa.