Body of Songs: the Heart with Dave Okumu

15 May

Dave okumuCurated by BBC Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney and composer Llywelyn ap Myrddin, Body of Songs is a project that explores the human body through music. The Music Court will profile each track in the compilation. The final four tracks will be announced this summer, and an album will follow. The concept is described best on their website:

“A collection of 10 songs by some of the UK’s most talented artists, inspired by the body’s organs.

Hidden from view, suctioned together in dark flesh, the organs are the core of our physical functioning, and our emotional and feeling world.

Each artist explores an organ with the help of experts, to find out how it works and unlock its mysteries and myths. Along the way they ask profound questions about their own lives; about illness and disease, and age and suffering.”

More information can be found at bodyofsongs.co.uk.

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At face value, it seems as though the heart would be the obvious choice for what organ to study and showcase as part of Body of Songs. But this isn’t any old project. These artists sit down with doctors and researchers to learn more about their organ of choice and make a piece of music that truly embodies it. So rather than hearing a throwaway love song, Dave Okumu takes this opportunity to thank his heart for continuing to beat after being electrocuted.

This is possibly the most cinematic track from Body of Songs. The first minute and a half are simply the prelude to the story. It is an eerie beginning, with a piano and pulsing processed keys. The heartbeat is the main rhythm, then it fades to nothing. When the main story starts, characters are slowly introduced, giving way to a firm melody after another minute and a half of exposition. Then it comes to a climax and fades, but at eight minutes, it won’t easily be forgotten; the gentle layers are woven so tightly that it becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Okumu is known for being the frontman in the English band, The Invisible, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2009. While playing a show in Lagos, Nigeria, he suffered a near-fatal electric shock after a malfunction with the equipment onstage. His leg was broken by the sheer force of the shock, but luckily, his lungs insulated his heart, preventing it from being ruptured. “I consider myself very lucky to be alive,” Okumu said, “and I have felt a profound sense of gratitude towards my heart for carrying me through that experience relatively unscathed. Hence the title of my piece of music: Grateful Heart.”

For more information on Dave Okumu and The Invisible, visit them via tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. For more information on Body of Songs, visit the project’s website.

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One Response to “Body of Songs: the Heart with Dave Okumu”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Skin with Bat for Lashes | The Music Court - July 14, 2015

    […] into the near-spiritual perfection of the human body, and sang praises that were very tangible. Dave Okumu also sang about his heart which had survived electrocution. Ghostpoet added an actual conversation […]

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