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Album Review

Zaki Ibrahim – “The Secret Life of Planets” [Album Review]

Toronto/South African artist Zaki Ibrahim delivers on the promise of her 2012 Polaris Prize short-listed debut with a strong collection of retro-style songs.



Toronto/South African artist Zaki Ibrahim’s long-awaited follow-up to her Polaris Prize-short listed 2012 debut Every Opposite lives up to its name taking the listener on a journey with its 12 retro-style tracks. The album shows that taking an extended break between releases can be beneficial since there’s little filler to be found on The Secret Life of Planets.

Musically, the album references everything from space age jazz from the 70’s through to 80’s and 90’s-style R&B, hip-hop and house. And in keeping with the spirit of the era she was trying to capture, the album was recorded using almost entirely analog production techniques, which brings a richness in sound to The Secret Life of Planets.

The first single, “Do the Right Thing,” is a prime example of this with its call and response style vocals and horns that manage to sound contemporary yet retro at the same time. “Love Made Naked” could be viewed as a tribute to Prince’s early music with its rhythmic kick and sexy feel. (Many of the album’s tracks are a sonic love letter to the 80’s.) With its combination of rapping and singing, “Cold Feet” is yet another sonic reference to the “Me Decade”.

Tracks like “Profantasies” find Ibrahim taking a “Less is more” approach that ultimately ends serving the music well. The minimal instruments serve to bring her vocals to the forefront. She wraps up the album in truly epic fashion with “Binary”, an eight-plus minute track that sounds like the epic space age funk/jazz songs that came out in the 70’s.

The Secret Life of Planets is a strong follow-up to Ibrahim’s promising debut. While it may meander in some sections, she has crafted a strong batch of songs that shows why she’s one of the most exciting Canadian artists.

The Secret Life of Planets Track Listing:

01. Intro
02. Get There
03. Love Made Naked
04. Cut Loose
05. Profantasies
06. Galileo
07. Dangerous
08. Sugar B
09. Diamond Time
10. Cold Feet
11. Do the Thing Right
12. Binary, Pt. 1
13. Binary, Pt. 2

Run Time: 51 minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2018

Stream the song “Do the Right Thing” from The Secret Life of Planets here.