Posts Tagged ‘south africa’

Live | Inala featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo on tour

Posted on September 23rd, 2014 in News, Recent posts, Reviews by .


A unique collaboration between choreographer Mark Baldwin, dancers from The Royal Ballet and the South African choral legends

South Africa’s iscathamiya (a capella) group Ladysmith Black Mambazo need little introduction. Since featuring on Paul Simon’s Graceland album back in 1986, they have become one of their country’s most famous musical exports. They’ve also proved themselves masters at collaboration, performing with the likes of Taj Mahal, Stevie Wonder and even the queen of country, Dolly Parton.

LBM’s latest project Inala is billed as ‘a Zulu Ballet.’ It’s an ambitious work with choreography by Rambert artistic director Mark Baldwin, music by composer and pianist Ella Spira, stunning dancing from 11 young dancers – and of course, the joyful singing of LBM. The programme calls it a ‘somewhat abstract visceral experience’ – a fairly accurate description, given that there is no storyline to speak of. Instead, it’s a series of evocative vignettes portraying life – both rural and urban – in South Africa.

The show opens at sunrise with the cast of dancers resplendent in a variety of exotic bird headdresses, accompanied by some lovely, comedic, hen pecking impersonations from the nine LBM members. Some of the scenes are frankly baffling – are they squatting mosquitoes or rounding up bees for honey? No matter; indeed once I stop trying to figure out what is going on, the sheer exuberance of the dancing and soulfulness of the singing completely wins me over.

LBM are a constant presence onstage, either gently swaying in unison, performing their trademark shuffling, or engaging in some impressive leg kicks together with the professional dancers, much to the delight of the audience. One small gripe is that, besides the percussion, the piano accompaniment jars and feels at times superfluous. The best moments come with  LBM doing what they do best – simply singing altogether in deep and soulful harmony.

All in all, a highly enjoyable evening and a show that is bound to yet further boost LBM’s already sizeable fanbase.

Inala is currently on tour in the UK until October 4. See for details


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Preview | The Future Sounds of Mzansi

Posted on June 23rd, 2014 in News, Recent posts by .


Spoek Mathambo releases the trailer for his documentary on electronic music in South Africa, The Future Sound of Mzansi, after two years of research and exploration with film-maker Lebogang Rasethaba. 

“Our mission was simple – to meet up with some of our heroes, colleagues, competition, and co-conspirators… an ever potent gang of electronic music pioneers sculpting The Future Sound of Mzansi.” This is what Spoek Mathambo had in the trailer for his upcoming documentary, two years in the making with Lebogang Rasethaba, on South Africa’s electronic music scene.

In fact, it is a little more complicated than Spoek makes out. A description accompanying the trailer, released last week ahead of the promotional cut screening at Sonar, Barcelona, explains why this is more than a look at the music scene. The documentary ‘aims to explore, express, and interrogating [sic] South Africa’s cultural landscape… 20 years into its democracy.’ The documentary looks at music as a medium through which a country steeped in poverty, crime, and injustice can envision a future ‘blindingly beautiful and bursting at the seams with youth energy and talent.

Mujave, Black Coffee and Christian Tiger School will feature along with various other electronic artists from across Mzansi (the colloquial Xhosa term for South Africa), as Spoek and Rasethaba explore everything from deep house to glitch hop, kwaito-house, township tech, sghubu sapitori (yes, really!) to dubstep; super khawuleza and shangaan electro. As an advertisement for the film puts it: ‘Welcome to the apartheid after-party.

Listen to The Future Sound of Mzansi Mixtape by Spoek


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New Spoek Mathambo video: ‘Awufuni’

Posted on August 15th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Spoek Mathambo 1 (2012)

Colourful South African tribute from Soweto singer

Eccentric Soweto-born singer, rapper and producer Spoek Mathambo recently unveiled his latest visual creation as part of Studio Africa’s upcoming music video releases. Inspired by 60s South African female group Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, the track samples ‘Awufuni Ukulandela Na?’

Last year’s widely acclaimed Father Creeper (Sub Pop) was full of Spoek’s self-proclaimed ‘township techno’; a unique blend of rap, kwaito and electro beats.

Spoek Mathambo – ‘Awufuni’

Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje – ‘Awufuni Ukulandela Na?’

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Shangaan Electro heads to the UK

Posted on May 6th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Shangaan Electro is coming to a town near you 

For the first time this summer the stars of Shangaan Electro, the high-speed dance phenomenon from South Africa, will lead a series of dance workshops and performances across the UK. 

Created by the charismatic producer and record label owner Nozinja, Shangaan Electro is a very contemporary product of Africa. Hailing from rural province of Limpopo but now based in Soweto, Nozinja saw the chance to update Shangaan music for the 21st century, replacing its traditional bass and guitar instrumentation with midi-keyboard sounds and vocal samples.

The sound quickly became a hit at weekly street parties in Soweto, with young and old competing to show off their moves to this dizzyingly fast music. The craze also caught the attention of Damon Albarn’s Honest Jon’s label who released the seminal Shangaan Electro compilation in 2010. 

This summer participants of all ages and abilities can learn the secrets of the Shangaan style, and then try out their moves in public during a live performance. 

July 2013 tour dates:

Wed 10 – Bristol, Trinity Centre (workshop)
Fri 12 – London, TBA (workshop)
Sat 13 – London, Dance Nations Dalston, Gillett Square (performance only)
Sun 14 London, Shoreditch Festival, Hoxton Street Market (performance only)
Wed 17 – Glasgow, SWG3 (workshop and performance)
Fri 19 – MAnchester, Islington Mill (performance and workshop)
Sat 20 – Liverpool, Kazimier (performance and workshop)
Sun 21 – Sheffield, Tramlines Festival (performance and workshop) 

Here’s a video to get you warmed up:

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