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South African Afrofuturistic WorldTown Dance Funk
March 8, 2011 12:39 AM   Subscribe

"Who knew township occultism and gangs of South African kids shared something of the pulse of post-punk dirges?" Spoek Mathambo covers Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" and sparks a journey into a world of grimey dub, white suits, musical dissemination via taxi cab, and a potential dash of Black Identity.

Blackdown brings the tale of taxi cabs and a mixdown for your sonic perusal.
posted by artof.mulata (52 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a lot of links in these articles and plenty of videos, too.
This one from Blackdownsoundboy is interesting as a genealogy of cross cultural activity from London to SA. And if you want to go a little further there's Shangaan Electro, to.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:44 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, I love it! LOVE!
posted by dabitch at 1:31 AM on March 8, 2011


Fuck that is great! Everything about it.
posted by awfurby at 1:40 AM on March 8, 2011


Dude, this is a great post.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:45 AM on March 8, 2011


This is a great post.
Lots-o-stuff I have never
seen. Good vibes!
posted by quazichimp at 2:06 AM on March 8, 2011


Christ. Holy fukin' Christ.

Stunning. Beautiful. Raw, bare and gorgeous.

As someone who's been haunted and beguiled and in deep love with that song for 25 years I'm getting chills...

I have seen the future of music and it is SPOEK MATHAMBO and whatever the hell it is they just invented.


Grar.

I feel like being in a band again.

posted by Skygazer at 2:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm loving the entho-future-house whatever thing that's happening right now, first time I've been excited about dance music in a while.
posted by ryaninoakland at 3:22 AM on March 8, 2011


Spoek M used to roll with Waddy Jones (aka. Ninja from Die Antwoord) a while ago. You can definitely see the influence.

But it's always great to have foreigners rave about our local south African artists :-))
posted by 00dimitri00 at 3:50 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honest John's have a great Shangaan Electro compilation out - the blurb on that page is interesting; even though Shangaan sounds like it must be a cross-pollination of UK and SA stuff, it's (according to one of the producers) traditional music from Limpopo played on different instruments.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 3:51 AM on March 8, 2011


he also has a blog.

i think this was one of the first mixes to have wide circulation....
posted by ennui.bz at 4:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does the 'mixdown' link keep trying to download an executable?
posted by Goofyy at 4:13 AM on March 8, 2011


I really like his cover of "Control"... it's literally the first cover of Joy Division I can say even that much about.

But I *love* this track here: 'War on Words'. This guy is unashamedly artistic, and obviously pretty damn talented. Very, very promising. We need more!
posted by markkraft at 4:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Amazing.

South Africa keeps producing things that please me and inspire me. (See also: Lauren Beukes - author, director)
posted by grabbingsand at 5:27 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh hell yeah!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:40 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oooooooh, I am very, very happy right now. This kicks ass in a big way.
posted by Forktine at 5:55 AM on March 8, 2011


Stunning. Thanks for this.
posted by squasha at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2011


The most particularly thrilling aspect of "the new sound" is that it isn't happening in the US and it can't be happening in the US...because the US has dedicated its creativity to developing restrictions on its own culture and expression.

Dancing for the sake of dancing? Singing all day and night? Unselfconscious fun?

Not anywhere in public in the States. The US presently has a federal government which is as sterile and draconian and secularly bureaucratic as anything from the legend of cold war USSR.

The Future? Bright! Spirited! Fun! And Not Made in the USA.
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've watched this three times and started three different comments about this, but nothing I could possibly say does justice to how awesome I think this is.


posted by The Potate at 6:22 AM on March 8, 2011


Mike Mongo: The most particularly thrilling aspect of "the new sound" is that it isn't happening in the US and it can't be happening in the US...because the US has dedicated its creativity to developing restrictions on its own culture and expression.

That certainly stands to reason. It must be why literally no good music of any lasting impact was created in the U.S. during Jim Crow.
posted by cobra libre at 6:49 AM on March 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Agreed, this is wonderful.

Dancing for the sake of dancing? Singing all day and night? Unselfconscious fun? Not anywhere in public in the States.

I'm pretty sure I've been to parties in the States where people danced unselfconsciously, but I could be mistaken. Anyway, after the Tea Partiers destroy the federal goverment, there will be plenty of time for us to dance in the ruins.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Way heavy. Way heavy.
posted by En0rm0 at 7:19 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, because South African music must only be understood within the US domestic political context.

Anything else would be madness.
posted by aramaic at 7:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Reminds me strongly of the tone that Roots Manuva captured with his unsettling cover of 'Yellow Submarine'... lurking dread breaking out into a haunted sense of spiritualism. Delicious!
posted by FatherDagon at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]



Yes, because South African music must only be understood within the US domestic political context.


Well, we've got a lot of Americans here, and they're understandably preoccupied about their country spiraling down into the political economic shitter.

...anyway, this is awesome. I love this for the same reasons I love the Ninja Tunes label. Fresh, new music is a beautiful thing.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:13 AM on March 8, 2011


That was fucking amazing.
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2011


Is this what the kids are listening to?
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The writeup reminds me of this awesome book set in Joburg.
posted by Evilspork at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's some great stuff
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:27 AM on March 8, 2011


Putting Spoek Mathambo into Pandora produces a bunch of Mr. Oizo style stuff, and while I can see where it's going with that it wasn't really what I wanted at all...
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on March 8, 2011


Thanks for posting this. I saw the video a couple of weeks ago on bb, and I've been meaning to learn more about it.
posted by homunculus at 10:40 AM on March 8, 2011


Way cool.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:49 AM on March 8, 2011


Shangaan goes global: a musical journey
posted by nickyskye at 11:50 AM on March 8, 2011


That blog of his is pretty great; thanks for pointing it out ennui.biz.
Just found this visual music gem in there: Lil Grrl Xylophone Fairy Master.
it's the 2nd video with the kid at the red drums.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:51 PM on March 8, 2011


KILLER! Loved it, thanks, art.of
posted by alicesshoe at 12:53 PM on March 8, 2011


It doesn't stop: His old defunct blog with more mixes for the happy downloader.
This is a good day.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2011


You might also enjoy DJ Mujava's kwaito-dub Township Funk (something understatedly good about the video, too).
posted by progosk at 1:54 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kids these days...
ARE FUCKING AWESOME.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit, he's playing tonight in SF. boo hoo.

@mighty
posted by alicesshoe at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2011


Other tour dates from his blog...
10.mar NECTAR LOUNGE - Seattle, WA
11.mar BRANX - Portland, OR
12.mar THE REEF - Boise, ID
13.mar URBAN LOUNGE - Salt Lake City, UT
14.mar BELLY UP - Aspen, CO
15-19.mar SXSW - Austin, TX
22.mar LOWBROW PALACE - El Paso, TX
24.mar CLUB CONGRESS - Tucson, AZ
25.mar ECHOPLEX - Los Angeles, CA
26.mar SODA BAR - San Diego, CA
posted by shinyshiny at 3:07 PM on March 8, 2011


Some more thoughts on multiple listens and viewings of the video:

The song strikes me as a pitch perfect aural inversion of the original. In the same way an image is created from a negative of a photo, but applied to sound:: The EQ, the instrument tones and Hannet-esque production stylings. I especially love the heavily reverbed, clipping two note guitar riff and the deep rumbling bass guitar underpinning to the synth playing the signature ascending riff up to the vibrato bass guitar like chord that marks the beginning of the seizure like dancing. Also the emotionless mechanical atonal vocals with the stresses in the right place and the lyrics (again inverted) to describing a "he" (and not a She as in the original).

The dancers are doing a play on the Komakino, Japanese dance moves Ian Curtis did in stage, adding in an irreverent homage to his occasional epileptic seizure, with the eyes rolling into the back of the head, and the trembling. Of course here it takes on a whole new depth as a convulsive paroxysm of white liquid and powder.

I love the image of the singer with the white tux and the megaphone on his shoulder with the microphone. I'm mazed at the use of the graveyard and the statue of the Archiangel Gabriel. I don't know any band who could get away with using such obvious JD/Factory Recs/Anton Corbijn iconography, and B&W photography without getting lampooned to pieces. But somehow, it, works, in the way a really good sample is completely recognizable but can be made new. The singer is a Ian Curtis-esque photo negative of something referencing Curtis on some level, but also symboling something a whole lot more terrible when covered with white powder and white liquid (invert?) and then metaphorically beaten to death. The appropriation of Curtis himself as a cultural symbol here is masterful. I think Curtis would've approved and been deeply honored by it. (Not to mentnion, I can't imagine the surviving members of JD hearing this and having a collective COW. A good cow. I would hope maybe Peter Hook, who's currently on the road doing a full live version of JD's, Unknown Pleasures, (he's the sole original member in the band he assembled for it), which includes She's Lost Control (First song, second side of the lp) has reached out to this singer/the band etc...)

I feel wary of fully trying to understand the full meaning of the use of the white powder and the white liquid being poured over heads (and it's reversal) and vomiting out of white liquid (and reversal and inversion). I don't think I have the proper full knowledge to speak on it, but the subversion is there, and the dread and terror is palpable, as is the rage.

\ A bit off topic, but does anyone have a guess on what kind of synth they're using? I can't tell if it's an old synth or a new synth with old tone patched in, also what kind of drum machine is that and is it mixed in with live drums or all programmed. I'd be thrilled to find out if anyone can take a guess...
posted by Skygazer at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


oops---> I can't imagine the surviving members of JD hearing this, and NOT having a collective COW. A good cow.

Clarification: I feel wary of trying to understand unpack or dissect or explode the full meaning of the use of the white powder and the white liquid being poured over heads (and it's reversal) and vomiting out of white liquid (and reversal and inversion) and diluting any of the power of those images. Also, I don't think I have the proper full knowledge to speak on it, but the subversion is there, and the dread and terror is palpable, as is the rage.


I got so excited about posting this, I didn't properly proofread or edit.
posted by Skygazer at 3:28 PM on March 8, 2011


This is supposed to represent everything I hate in current music. But it's freaking amazing. I keep wanting to play it over and over again and sending the link to everybody I know. Thanks for this; I might never have heard about it if you hadn't posted.

Wow.
posted by ardgedee at 6:07 PM on March 8, 2011


Skygazer, make of synth is mentioned in the vid from Spoekmathambo1, title: Spoek Mathambo & Mshini wam-EPK 2010.

While your reviewing, I'm curious what you think of 'Yonkers' by Tyler the Creator? --Note: it's graphic, along with the lyrics.
posted by alicesshoe at 6:29 PM on March 8, 2011


'Yonkers' by Tyler the Creator

Pretty amazing. So so brutal, and I mean that as a compliment. It's like all the arty geek kids have digested 20 years of Post-punk, doom, power electronics, hip hop, soul and hypno-beats and are just creating these unrelenting uncompromising slabs of hyper-realism, hyper-weird shaman-ism. And the main act of rebellion is a form of spiritual bulimia. Ingesting and vomiting back up. Wow. I listened to a bunch of Tyler the Creator stuff and he just seems light years ahead, like SPOEK MOTHAMBO. Subversive, smart, hard, unrelenting.

I'm getting excited. Music has been so boring for a while now, and this burgeoning minimal afro-futurism really to me seems like a magnificent new phase here.

Ran across this by DJ Mujava, another South African, doing a song that sounds like a lighter sketch instrumental for SPOEK MOTHAMBO's out of control, Control.

This is what music for the Twenty-teen years should be and it would makes sense it would pick up where the 80s left off in a way. 80s music also sublimated a lot dark shit.
posted by Skygazer at 9:00 PM on March 8, 2011


Need to hear that Tyler the C. thing some more...

the writing almost has a short story feel to it at time.

posted by Skygazer at 9:02 PM on March 8, 2011


I just lost my iTunes virginity (I'm not a fan of buying music off machines) just because I needed this song like a drug.
posted by dabitch at 3:23 AM on March 9, 2011


Ha-ha, dabitch, now you're hooked!

Thanks Skygazer for your input. I really, really liked Yonkers. Very powerful, brilliantly acted and sung-if he doesn't make it in music, director. Damn! Interesting some similarities between the two vids-b&wh, the insects...interesting. ok, that's maybe where it ends, heh.

I do like hiphop/rap, [not so much gangsta], but love, love love dubstep, of which there are so many good artists. I've family, an under 20's dj /musician who's blog discovers some great non mainstream dubstep tunes along w/good mainstream ones. I'll ask mods if I can drop his link. That's where I heard yonkers.

Back to Spoek's Control, mesmerising and better by far than the original. Love when that happens. The vid is well done. That white suit isn't exactly a white suit. I saw some Catholic looking embroidered scarf[00:00:21], no strangers to control there, mixed in with voodoo[?], ritual and states of trance.

Visited the links and agree, dj Mujava I liked and the dancing is brill.

The dancer for Girl Walk//All Day, Anne Marsen, might love this shit. I do.
posted by alicesshoe at 10:41 AM on March 9, 2011


Here's that site [nephew's] a dj & musician studying music, producing & business in LA. Various gendres a day, weekly.

http://twosongsaday.wordpress.com
posted by alicesshoe at 5:03 PM on March 9, 2011


I've lost a week of my life in the last two days clicking on links in this thread and getting farther and farther down the rabbit-hole. As someone who's been fascinated by South African and southern African musicians and influences for a long time (well since about Graceland, I figure), this is incredible, mindblowing stuff. Thanks.
posted by some chick at 3:07 PM on March 10, 2011


I am watching Spoek set up on stage right now. If this is half as good as I am hoping, I will owe MeFi a big kiss.
posted by Forktine at 8:48 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


No surprise, he kicks ass live. Big sloppy kisses with extra tongue for everyone!
posted by Forktine at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


eeew, cooties!

Envious you've already seen him live, I'll catch him when he heads this way for sure
posted by dabitch at 12:10 PM on March 13, 2011


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