This lip service is who they are. This is the age of authenticity
Many a version of life’s reality is defined by our experiences. BCUC’s presence is defined by their hyperreality, of nuance, consequence and variety. For their stage is a mere extension of their identity of convoluted narratives and impetuous sound corrosions, and their performance: an understanding of indigenous sounds.
BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) is an elevation that transforms our inner selves into our future ones, sharing a narrative of unpremeditated rhythms and creative, rebellious energy it had when the “Rainbow Nation”, with its now less-than-vibrant colours, emerged twenty years ago.
Their first LP, released by Nyami Nyami Records, is a French label promoting music mainly from Southern Africa. With a mission to touch the soul and ears of the people with music made with passion, love, respect and talent, their releases feature unique recordings by some of the most fascinating musicians from the Southern African region through new productions, reissues and rare projects and collaborations.
Essentially an anthem, “Yinde” speaks to me on repeat, audibly and viscerally. In a personal capacity, I’ve reached a dead end to a degree, reexamining my core and picking up the corpse of individual collective traumas of a year that is about to pass. This track awakens my potential. They are sending and receiving and transcending messages through space and time, and as they bellow out a lifetime of woes and empowerment, embracing their strength as pioneers of this generation and of our consciousness, I am joining their journey, as a passer by, a creator and my own coming of age narrative.
“Asazani” shudders and swells the bones with its textural high tone hymns and bickering boastful bulk of narrative sequencing. This track is not cut from a cloth we know; it abandons influences and imagines its own. BCUC found its magic formula in 2013, however, when they folded a frenzied electric bass into the simple drum-and-vocals mix. We can not package this grouping of individuals as a mere band. They are more than this. They are a conscious clinic making music as a hedonistic trance, using their personalities and stories as a weapon of political and spiritual liberation. Echoing an artistry and quest and mission of healing the world with music, their poetic anecdotes in their tracks are their reality, sharing lyrics: / My psychosomatic flows is something contagious / It’s nothing but pop music / But it just grows on you.
“Yinde”, which opens “Our Truth”, means “the road”: a symbol of the distance left to cover towards a fairer South African society. Similarly, “Asazani” (“we don’t know one another”) pleads for a reconciling of all the components of the “Rainbow Nation”.
This lip service is who they are. This is the age of authenticity.
Artistic heirs to Philip “Malombo” Tabane and Batsumi, they seek to give a contemporary voice to the ancestral traditions of indigenous peoples. Jazz sounds of 1970s and ‘80s productions have been replaced by hip-hop influences and a punk-rock energy.
There is an alchemy to their sound which they have find its focal point: “Africangungungu”, the name they’ve given to their “afropsychedelic” music. Both on stage and on this album (their first commercial production), their songs refuse to be formatted. Their “incantations” in Zulu, Sotho and English and their funky modulations extend over twenty minutes in a whirlwind of sound reminiscent of Fela’s Afrobeat.
Nguni rhythms mix with Tsonga rhythms, the whistles of Bhaca and Shona miners meet the traditional Imbomu horn, while ancestral war songs and Ngoma busuku (night song) choruses mingle with the soul music of singer Kgomotso and the raging rap of Jovi and Luja.
BCUC’s willingness to look at these social and identity questions in the face has already led to the banning of one song from their only self-produced EP, which points the finger at a national idol. But neither this event, nor the criticism to which they are exposed by their refusal to belong to a specific movement, can change their minds. “Music for the people by the people with the people” – a people they refuse to box into one community, to circumscribe to one skin colour.
These recordings are only a glimpse into their being. In order to really feel them you need to see them live, because, they play every performance like their lives depend on it.
Listen and feel. The time is now.