Thursday, 1 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #81 - Various Artists, "Shangaan Electro"

I still haven't been able to get my ears on the album of remixed versions of these tunes yet, so I've gone to have a listen to the source instead. This came out in 2010, a round-up on Honest Jon's of a handful of South African artists representing the "New Wave of Dance Music".

It's fast. And it sounds quite unlike anything else. Cheap keyboards weave in and out of another at pace and something that sounds like xylophones or thumb pianos are swiftly moved across. Nimble, darting tunes for limbs nimbler and more darting then mine. Zinja Hlungwani's "Ntombi Ya Mugaza" has a soulful feel about it, very rapid Deep House  - "I'm a gentleman/Can you hear me?"  Their other track "N'wagezani My Love" is even more of a lover's Afrorock number with a bit of call and reponse with what sounds like a small woman's choir. He also has four tracks of the twelve, so I'm thinking he's the heavier hitter.

BBC don't seem to bother with any of the romantic pretensions (although my knowledge of South African languages leaves me short here as always). They're much more about dance and the occasional hyper-speed chatter over the top. Tiyiselena Vomaseve's "Naxaniseka" seems after faster again. (I'm really coming up with some profound insight, eh?)  "Vanghoma" has a scary voiced man at the end, perhaps connected to the scary clown outfits the people wear on the cover. (See? Profound. I was hoping Google Translate might help out with the titles, but no furry dice.)

Tshetsha Boys sound closer to what I'd expect of African guitar music. "Uya Kwihi Ka Rose" strays into English impenetrably here and there with "size ten" and "ten centimetre" amongst the sped-up fragments of chants. "Nwampfundla" bears an incredible title that I may talk with my wife about as a middle name for our first born.

So all in all mysterious and no nonsense at the same time. Look forward to seeing people I know (like myself) trying to figure out how to dance to this at some hipster-ish gathering at some point. And to hearing the remix album properly.

Rating: You Can Take The Music out of South Africa

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