A fresh sound, a new name: Berlin-based WNBL, formerly known as Wanubalé, are back with a fiery EP. Five new songs, including, for the first time ever, vocal features. !e nine-piece band WNBL is showcasing first-rate Rap and R&B artists – while forging their own, super-danceable sound fusing Funk, R&B, Jazz and House.
Berlin, east of Tempelhofer Feld. Neukölln-Rixdorf is where it’s at. WNBL found a space here in 2020, close to the old barns and farmhouses near vibrant Karl-Marx-Straße. !e pandemic was tough o n them, too, but WNBL made the best of it. Not only did they develop a new working method. !ey also took a new name: more concise, evoking fewer associations. Wanubalé, founded in 2017, is now called WNBL (every letter is pronounced, in German/English – whichever you prefer!).
In their newly built rehearsal studio in Rixdorf, the nine players finally found the time to develop their compositions the way they had always had in mind. Lengthy jam sessions eventually led to the recording of numerous demos – five of which they fleshed out into songs for the “WNBL” EP.
It’s the first time ever that the band has worked with vocalists. WNBL have long been fans of rapper Mike Nasa (raised in California) and Evin Kücükali (singer/producer with Kurdish roots), known as Evîn. Both are part of a metropolitan scene in which genre contrasts never mattered.
WNBL are trained Jazz musicians (mostly), but they tend to feel even more connected to electronic music. Opener “Still not in Space” developed from a single bass riff, with Mike adding his ever flowing old-school raps. “Who is she” sees WNBL creating a neo R&B mood (think of H.E.R. or Hiatus Kaiyote), a calm sea of beats for Evîn to sail on with her soulful voice. “Deviation” and “Contemplation” are most representative of what WNBL sounds like in a live setting. These tracks feature the band at their most creative, inspired by the hip fusion sound of players like Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Unlike earlier recordings, WNBL now seem more at peace with their improvisatory approach. Powerful, melodic horn lines are recurrent, simultaneously there’s more space between the notes.
“No. 72” is WNBL’s tribute to Berlin’s bustling House scene. Rarely have they invested more session time in a single track. Real live drums and handclaps are creating an irresistible Club atmosphere (fun fact: “72” is their studio address).
While WNBL’s lineup has remained the same (four-piece horn section, two drummers, guitar, bass, keys), their sound is even more refined: highly danceable, with room to breathe. Tight, but never too elaborate, with solos developing elegantly.
WNBL: nine twentysomethings playing as one, representing the whole scope of Urban music (let’s call it that way) today: R&B, Funk, Soul, Dub, Rap, House, Jazz, Pop.