Forward-thinking UK trio Vula Viel celebrate their sophomore album, ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ at the Gulbenkian on 30th October 2019, continuing their unique musical journey centred around the Gyil (Ghanaian xylophone).

“Dance to it, make love to it, consume it, listen to it, start at the clouds to it!” Iggy Pop 

The band’s new set confidently weaves sparse polyrhythms and intricate rhythm structures around bandleader Bex Burch’s Gyil lines and take the instrument’s sound into new territory, with bassist Ruth Goller (Acoustic Ladyland, Melt Yourself Down, Rokia Traore) and drummer Jim Hart (Cloudmakers, Ralph Alessi, Electric Biddle) introducing a rough, post-punk edge to the band’s sound.

Vula Viel was formed in 2013 by Bex Burch. After studying at Guildhall and training as a classical percussionist, she embarked on a life-changing three-year period living, farming and studying with xylophone master Thomas Segura in Upper West Ghana; the band’s name means ‘Good is Good’ in the Dagaare language. After being mentored in the deep traditions around the Gyil, a large African xylophone made of sacred lliga wood, Burch began the journey to bring the instrument into her own music. The acclaimed debut Vula Viel album in 2015, ‘Good is Good’, was the first realisation of her vision and ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ is the first set of Burch originals, written on traditional Dagaare forms.

Described as “Ghanaian minimalism”, with the unassuming ability to blur the lines between atmospheres – Vula Viel’s sound may nod to Steve Reichian jazz, but influences don’t stop there: one can hear echoes of Bill Laswell and the irresistible energy of Arthur Russell.

Part of Global Sounds & Songbirds series

Supported by Music For Change and  POW!

Support Act TBC. Support act in association with Beautiful Town Music

Hosted by Neelam Saredia-Brayley

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This event is part of

Songbirds Series

Wed 30 October - Wed 27 November 2019
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The Gulbenkian reviews

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“The gyil’s woody warmth finds a life-giving energy in Burch's hands… the swinging bliss of Vula Viel's music comes direct”

All About Jazz
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“punchy, danceable... Vibe-tastic”

Evening Standard - Album of the week

“Geometric African minimalism... Goller’s fuzz bass adds a thrilling post-punk edge to proceedings”


“Unconventional band who can take you by surprise... There's a punk energy to some of the more frenetic performances”

Sunday Times

“Fearless.. Vula Viel are a live sensation”


“the music that pours out is alive with vibrant activity… Vula Viel take the very old and mould it into something bright”

The Arts Desk - Vinyl of the month
Vula Viel

Wed 30 October 2019

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