London-based trio Benin City combine spoken word poetry with electronica and brass to catchy yet poignant effect.
The group formed in 2008, when poet Joshua Idehen stumbled across Theo Buckingham playing drums at a squat party. Without introducing himself, Idehen approached Buckingham and began to recite poetry over the drums, serendipitously creating the core idea behind Benin City; the name itself comes from the Nigerian town from which Idehen's parents originally hailed. At first the pair invited a host of musicians to take part in the project, leading to a seven-piece band that performed at parties around London; they specifically cut their teeth at the Dalston-centric venue Passing Clouds. As the idea to put out a record began to form, the group shrank to a three-piece that included the two originators and Tom Leaper on sax and strings. Their debut full-length, Fires in the Park, arrived via Audio Doughnuts in 2013. Sometime after the release of their debut, Buckingham parted ways with the group, replaced by a series of session drummers. In 2016, they became a trio once again after the addition of singer Shanaz Dorsett. Later the same year, Passing Clouds was closed by the council, spurring the band to write their second full-length album, Last Night, which was written as an ode to London's diminishing nightlife and cultural spaces. Moshi Moshi Records released the album in April of 2018. ~ Liam Martin, Rovi