‘New Wave Dance Music From South Africa’

 

Shangaan Slipknot..

 


Honest Jon Records 2010

LP (GF X2)/ CD/ Download

Track List –

A.
1. BBC – Ngunyata Dance (The Shake Your Behind Dance)  (5:34)
2. Tshetsha Boys – Nwampfundla (Pfundla’s Daughter)  (4:38)
3. Mancingelani – Vana Vasei (My Sister’s Children)  (5:30)

B.
1. Zinja Hlungwani – Ntombi Ya Mugaza (Shagaan Women)  (5:32)
2. Zinja Hlungwani – N’wagezani My Love (Gezani’s Daughter, My
Love)  (6:30)
3. Tiyiseloni Vomaseve – Vanghoma  (5:11)

C.
1. BBC – Ngozi (Danger)  (5:24)
2. Zinja Hlungwani – N’wagezani (Gezani’s Daughter)  (4:48)
3. Tiyiselani Vomaseve – Naxaniseka (I’m Suffering)  (5:47)

D.
1. Tshetsha Boys – Uga Kwihi Ka Rose (Rose, Where Are You Going?)  (5:24)
2. Nkata Mawewe – Khulumani (Let’s Talk)  (5:01)
3. Zinja Hlungwani – Thula (So Quiet)  (5:13)


The recent mass-media onslaught that hit South Africa this summer obviously turned most of its attention towards the world cup, and observed the fever that escalated around this most important global event.
A by-product, a secondary important factor was that these broadcasters investigated the general extended culture, be it social, political, historical or musical. One specific genre in particular has benefited in a roundabout way from all this, was the new wave appropriation of a traditional dance music, produced by the Shangaan people, and known affectionately as Shangaan Electro.

With a musicphile clamour for tunes coming out of the whole continent, our addiction for all things African has been catered to by labels such as Soundway, Africa Analog and now Honest Jon. We have been well-fed and looked after, yet we always want more, this latest showcase should keep the hunger at bay for now.
It seems inconceivable that a whole movement such as this could actually evade us; until now your only means of catching any of these groups collected under this moniker was to come across them on Youtube by chance – videos can attract up to 500,000 plays.
Still only a local scene, mainly prevalent in the townships of Johannesburg, but whose heart lies in Limpopo; the leading advocate and exponent of this musical style, Nozinja, is originally from this rural region, which is situated in the northern most part of the country, formally known as the Transvaal and now renamed after the prominent river.

Honest Jon the diversifying label run by Mark Ainsley and Hardwax/Basic Channel Mark Ernestus, have packaged together 12 tracks from between 2005 to 2009, all produced by the one-man maelstrom enterpriser Nozinja, who records, writes, sings, markets and even drives his stable of artists around. Incredibly with no outside help, with no digital distribution to speak of and solely off the back of gigs and word of mouth, he can shift over 50,000 records a year – maybe the industry should take some heart.
Nozinja, aka Dog, revolutionised Shangaan, sweeping away, as he saw it, the slow ghostly sleep inducing dance music of yore, into a much more furious hi-octane version.
He dropped the traditional bass/lead guitar dynamic in favour of the marimba, cutting loose the original organ sound for an electronic keyboard instead; adopting its pre-set drum fills. The tempos cranked up from 110 to an eye watering average of 180 +, causing the dancers – integral to the scene – to perform electric-shock vibrating shaking movements, in ever odder combinations, wearing strange macabre colourful outfits.
Compilation stars Tshetsha Boys, don ill-fitting orange boiler suits and fiendish disturbing clown masks – see the front cover – when hitting the dusty makeshift dance floor.

The sounds on this album take you by surprise.
What at first seems like a speeded-up gallop through The Legends of Zelda soundtrack, crossed with the Soweto version of disco set on the wrong speed, soon makes sense after many repeated plays.
Infectious and at times sublimely fatuous, it defies explanation, the closest equivalent being a joyous Paul Simon fronted happy hardcore outfit.
These tunes contain generous Casio pre-set tom fills and doubled-up jumping hurried breaks that go chasing off into the distance, whilst eloquently phrased bouts of hypnotic female alluring choruses and pained laments, which usually revolve around suffering or pursuing the local beauty to no avail, carouse over the top punctuated by helium filled bouts of sampled voices.
Individually they all have their own nuances and quirks, either chugging along in a rapid charge like manner, or at a more refined dignified pace, beguiling and enchanting, with various reworkings of the basic melodies and grooves.

Shangaan Electro defies any blithe categorisation that I, myself, can attribute, remaining a curious proposition, one that you will either recoil from or embrace.
Plenty of critics and blogs have already picked up on this compilation, bellowing aloud their approval from the rooftops, though all being taking by surprise.
Anyone vaguely interested in the trends traversing African music, should pick up a copy, hardened fans will also find themselves tickled and seduced.

DV

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