Emmanuel Iduma

Intimate Strangers

Intimate Strangers, a collaborative album with Sara Serpa, premiered in 2018 as an interdisciplinary musical performance based on A Stranger’s Pose. In a combination of music, spoken word, image and field recordings collected during my travels, Intimate Strangers explores such themes as of movement, home, grief, absence and desire. 

This collaborative project brought me closer to understanding how words worked in a pre-literate time, when writing was yet to be invented—when stories were passed from mouth to mouth, from memory to memory.

Sara’s composition distill A Stranger’s Pose to its essential groove and vital ballad. During our performances, her singing—backed by Aubrey Johnson’s and Sofia Rei’s—have always seemed to me as a process of mapping the deeper emotional logic of my travel stories. And when combined with the music of Qasim Naqvi’s modular synth and Matt Mitchell’s piano, the soundscape opens like a field in which known and strange things slowly pass. For instance, it has become clearer to me how the deaths in the desert, described to me in Bamako, might be mourned. Or how those who sing know it is not too lofty to ascribe a melody to the sea.

My gratitude to Sara for her magnificent parsing of my words into music. Our collaboration was bookended by a time of personal mourning for me, and in more ways than one, the music saw me through.

Named one of New York Times Best Jazz Albums of 2021Read reviews in Wall Street Journal, The Nation, Bandcamp.

Sara Serpa: voice, composition
Emmanuel Iduma: text, spoken word
Sofía Rei, Aubrey Johnson: voice
Matt Mitchell: piano:
Qasim Naqvi: modular synth

Listen: Bandcamp • Spotify • Biophilia Records