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Album Review: Michael Sebastian - Afiye

Multi-instrumentalist and electronic artist Michael Sebastian releases his third studio album ‘Afiye.'
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Michael Sebastian Live at The Ritzy, London

Michael Sebastian Live at The Ritzy, London

London-based multi-instrumentalist and electronic producer Michael Sebastian returns with his latest studio album Afiye, a follow-up to Kayanda released back in 2018. Born in Cape Town, Sebastian has managed to craft his unique sound and way of storytelling throughout his artistic journey drawing from an array of influences and genres from jazz, Afrobeat to more signature electronic sonics and drum grooves all while being led by his infectious guitar melodies.

Afiye came about after Sebastian’s extensive time spent improvising and composing music for dancers coinciding with performances around England. Recorded in isolation, Afiya sees Sebastian craft a vibrant and wholesome body of work that was inspired by a recent trip to Ethiopia and Mali where he got to study and perform with Mulatu Astatke, who is regarded as the father of Ethio-jazz. Speaking on his time in Africa, Sebastian explains that he "studied and performed with the most incredible musicians whilst I was out there and had the opportunity to discover the people and culture behind the most vibrant music on earth."

Sonically, this album incorporates Sebastian's gorgeous guitar melodies and phrasings with his love for jazz and dance whilst intricately embracing worldly sounds and rhythms. The foundations of the tracks on Afiye were composed through Sebastian’s use of loop pedals building sonic layers on top of each other. 

Stand-out tracks on Afiye come from the soothing and rhythmic track "Afiye" driven by an enchanting guitar lead line and delicate vocal chants and the Ethio-jazz influenced track "Samenga Danughe," which showcases some of Sebastian’s finest guitar performances on the record. Lead single "Mayehna" finds Sebastian in full force with his high energy percussive rhythms and pulsating staccato guitar melody erupting into a lively high-spirited jam. 

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The release of Afiye shows how Sebastian has mastered his sound of composing culturally rich and groove heavy instrumentals that feel both raw and alive, a testament to his years of live varied performances and busking sessions.

When asked about his new album Afiye, Sebastian describes that “this album for me is full of joy. It was a time where I felt really free and inspired, and I think there’s a sense of that captured in the album. The album also takes a lot of influence from the dance and jazz scene here in London, and it’s really exciting to hear a combination of all of my favorite worlds in one place.” 

Listen to Afiye in full below and get your copy here.

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