Peter Adjaye conjures sounds for Toyin Ojih Odutola’s A Countervailing Theory, in Ceremonies Within

By in Label News





Combining ancient African instrumentation with modern contemporary synthesizers and strings.

Peter Adjaye is releasing his soundscape for Toyin Ojih Odutola’s A Countervailing Theory exhibition – called Ceremonies Within – via Music 4 Architecture / The Vinyl Factory this September.

A Countervailing Theory is Nigerian-American artist Ojih Odutola’s debut UK exhibition, presented at the Barbican’s Curve gallery.

In mesmerising scale, it sees Ojih Odutola explore an imagined myth that reveals the story of an ancient civilisation in central Nigeria, which is dominated by female rulers. It challenges the preconceived notions of history, culture, gender, sexuality, race, the natural environment and more.

“Ojih Odutola, recognising the pen as a ‘writing tool first’, plays with the idea that drawing can be a form of storytelling,” shares the Barbican. “Working exclusively with drawing materials including pastel and charcoal, she approaches her process of drawing as an investigative practice.”

For the soundscape, Adjaye created a 12-channel sound installation, combining ancient African instrumentation – including the Ogene, Ekwe & Igba drums, Pluriarc African harp, Okpola wood block, Udu drum and Calabash rattle – with modern synthesizers and strings.

These sonics take the listener on a journey through multiple percussive forms, acoustic drums, wooden flutes and choral passages. The audio installation allows the multitude of sounds to ‘bleed’ into each other organically as one travels through the space.

Ceremonies Within is first presented in three movements, each consisting of three sound compositions. On the second side, these compositions are presented in the continuous gallery version, as heard at the Barbican.

Its outer sleeve features Ojih Odutola’s powerful artwork, ‘Summons, To Witness One’s Own’ (2019-2020), with design by Adjaye Associates and mastering by Noel Summerville.

Pre-order a copy of Ceremonies Within here in advance of its 18th September release.


Side 1

1. First Movement

I. Breath of Life
II. Stages of Growth of Consciousness
III. Essence of Material Forms

2. Second Movement

IV. Point of Infinity
V. Seeds of Understanding
VI. Change of Reality

3. Third Movement

VII. Resistance & Authority
VIII. Eyes that See
IX. Endless Eternity

Side 2

Gallery Version

Artwork: ‘Summons, To Witness One’s Own’ (2019-2020) by Toyin Ojih Odutola.

A Countervailing Theory runs through Sunday 24th January 2021 at the Barbican.