BATUK’s Musica De Terra is Spoek Mathambo’s best work as a conductor


Music without borders

It was the “darkwave township” tech cover of Joy Divisions “She’s Lost Control” on his debut album that saw Spoek Mathambo gain global acclaim. Barely any of his music has been played on local radio, but following the release of Escape from ‘85, his third and final solo album, Spoek has used his global prominence in mediating divergent individuals to highlight African sounds and culture.

His first effort came in the form of Fantasma which attempted to fuse rock, bacardi house and maskandi amongst others with it’s debut Album Free Love. The album was very much an experimental concept album, but it’s varying influences left the music feeling fragmented and hardly palpable.

With his latest group, BATUK, the music is well defined and more palpable because they are not trying to reinvent the wheel. At its core is the industrial township tech of Aero Manyelo with the mostly portuguese vocals of Mantiega furnishing the music with emotion. The varying influences of zouk and other forms of traditional African music are strokes on the canvas and the music is seamless, because each of the influences are connected by the language and culture of rhythm.

The album was previewed with the release of a music video for ‘Daniel’ which we echoed earlier this year. The single was then followed by the dizzying video for ‘Call Me Naughty’ which follows the group travels evoking feelings of a friday night out. An early favourite on Musica De Terra is “Me Toque” featuring the unofficial fourth member of the group in Nandi Ndlovu. The track implodes unexpectedly with a taut rhythm which feels more like suppression than release. All in all, Musica De Terra is a successful exercise in annexing the various components of the African diaspora.



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