Have You Heard? New South African music Volume 4

First things first: There was a lot of new music this month. November, it seems, is the month of new albums and EPs, too many of them to include in one piece, in fact. Nevertheless, a few of them, along with some great singles, mixes and music videos, have been gathered up and listed here for your listening pleasure. 

Welcome to Volume 4 of Have You Heard. The year’s almost over, holiday season is just around the corner, and South African music is as good as ever. 

Albums and EPs

Vox Portent | Youth
Sounds like: Nostalgia

After a good few years of making music, Vox Portent brought out his debut album simply titled Youth. It’s a 13 track project that bids farewell to the artist’s younger years – the good times, the bad times, the broken hearts, the new found friends – all packaged in a pleasingly nostalgic array of sounds. Give Youth a listen below and read about our day with the artist over here

Sol Gems | Lapis Lazuli
Sounds like: Contemporary psych rock charged through a retro filter

A good few people were waiting for this one, myself included. Sol Gems – colloquially known as the ‘Standing with the Sun’ band, and more loyally known as the psych rock/Sungaze three-piece from Jo’burg – brought out their latest extended release this November which sees seven expertly crafted tracks come together under the banner of Lapis Lazuli. Check out one of their singles below and read more about Lapis Lazuli as well as the recording process over here.

Kimosabe | Nights
Sounds like: *Strongarm emoji*

“Nights is a collection of songs written at night, when my mind is most active and creative,” says Kimosabe on the release. “I produced, wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered every single song myself (as I usually do), not to mention that every single instrument was played by me as well.”

Well, damn Kimosabe.

Nights is a solid collection of tracks by a talented (and largely unknown) South African artist. Here, the artist is soft and considered, he is bawdy and unapologetic, he is many things across the seven tracks contained in Nights. In short, Kimosabe’s a welcome addition to the local scene who’s able to be invested enough in his music to really craft it, while still managing to take enough of a step back to give it that critical polish. 

Kwaai-Fi | Kwaai-Fi Vol.1
Sounds like: *drum emoji, speaker emoji, disco man emoji*

Kwaai-Fi, as stated on their Soundcloud page, “is a label/collective/platform that aims to be a jump-off for some of the fresh scenes and sounds coming out of Cape Town.”

Currently comprised of artists such as Maramza, Dunnkidda, and Terrasoul, the collective just brought out their first six-track EP aimed at showcasing some of the more alternative electronic music in the Mother City. Overall, Vol.1 is full of energy and character, each track seemingly richer than the last. Kwaito is a firm springboard here and scatters its influence across all six tracks. While all artists do well to announce themselves and demonstrate their own sounds on the EP, DJ Fosta is a stand out artist with both his original track and his remix of a Terrasoul track bringing their own dense and dramatic soundscapes to the collection. If this EP’s anything to go by, Vol.2 should be very well received.

Saint Solo | Assorted
Sounds like: A lot, man. A lot.

Saint Solo’s a Durban-born, Grahamstown-based painter, beatmaker, photographer and all round artist. He recently, in one fell swoop, uploaded a whole lot of stuff he’s been working on over the years to his Soundcloud. Dirty Monitor, which you can hear below, has an overall hip-hop and soul feel to it, but that said, it’s a diverse collection of sound that carries a bit of funk, a bit of stripped down percussive elements, and a bit of glitchy goodness. Pinot Noir and Commercial Breaks, the other two releases, sound out with a predominant emphasis on the electronic elements and could even afford to be grouped under a single project. Altogether, the three releases are solidly produced and serve as nice examples of the artist’s overall sound. Check them all out here.

Runaway Nuns | Self-titled
Sounds like: Self-assured, slightly off colour, garage rock

If you can move past the vaguely disconcerting cover art, Runaway Nuns have put together a good collection of songs for a debut release. The EP, which consists of five, short and punchy numbers, declares itself with a light-hearted but decidedly determined vigour. A few short and sweet reviews have said some positive things about the Cape Town-based five-piece, but a good friend of mine tells me their live shows are truly memorable things which is all I need to hear, really. You can check out their sound for yourself below. P.S: ‘High Skool’ is a goodie!

Two Stroke | Self-titled
Sounds like: Pleasant déjà vu

Now I haven’t been to Cape Town for some time now, but the levels of angst in the City Bowl must be boiling over, because goddamn there’s a lot of garage rock coming out of that place lately. To be fair though, Two Stroke’s been around for a while. A three-piece that apparently started out as a one-woman band, their sound carries a good amount of personality, largely due to the stand-out vocals which declare themselves atop gritty basslines and frenetic percussive work. Check out their EP below and journey around their Bandcamp for more.

Birthday Girl | Vapid Falls
Sounds like: A bunch of travelling extra-terrestrials made an EP

Since they teased their EP with ‘Vapid Falls Part One’ it was already clear that this release was going to be a good one. Vapid Falls is a full-bodied project with an undeniable urgency about it – as if the songs have been swirling around for ages, eager to burst out into the soundscape and be heard. It goes without saying that the title tracks (Vapid Falls Part One and Two) are the stand out numbers on the EP, but don’t overlook the others. ‘Occasionals’ has a beautiful yearning about it, ‘Tangerine’ will take you on a number of different journeys in under five minutes, and ‘Have You Considered the Implications’ wraps up the EP on a resoundingly passionate note.

Black Math | The 8 Min 10 Min Song EP
Sounds like: Those damn kids

The first time I heard Black Math, they were devoid of any vocals, but the energy was undoubtedly there. It’s still there of course, in all of its howling, frantic, gritty glory, but this time with vocals that manage to keep up with the rest. You’d be fooling yourself to try and make sense of them though, and in fact, the track names themselves could even function as a set of lyrics for the Durban-based three piece. All in all, it’s a brilliantly messy EP, and that’s what makes it enjoyable.

Daev Martian | Martian Lo-Fi Taep
Sounds like: *Endless alien emojis and a couple of fire emojis too*

Released through the ever expanding and consistently busy label, Subterranean Wavelength, Martian Lo-Fi Taep is a great bit of experimentation by Daev Martian. No one track is similar on the EP, each one experimenting wonderfully with production and lyricism. The instrumental tracks shine through the brightest, particularly ‘Nkanyezi Light‘ and ‘Swaev’ which play around with form and structure to infectious ends.       

Hi-Lux | All About You
Sounds like: A good way to wrap up a busy year

Hi-Lux, the side-project of Pretoria-based producer Buli, just dropped a three-track EP via UK-based label and platform The Good Vibe. It’s been a busy year for Buli, including debut LPs, EPs, numerous features, gigs and singles. All About You is a nice way for the producer to take a step back from Buli and experiment and reflect through a softer and more considered sound. Give it a listen below. 

Mixes

Phatsoki | Mix for Pomp 4
Sounds like: I mean…

Phatstoki, regular Kitchener’s DJ and co-founder of the now well-known Pussy Party events, dropped a new mix this month. The name says it all really – wild, rhythmic beats lay down the unremitting foundations for a mix that comes in at just over 23 minutes. There’s a nice musical narrative inside the 23 minutes too, starting out slowly, ramping it up midway and then slowing down to drop you off safely towards the end. Give it a listen below.

Singles

Stilo Magolide ft Riky Rick | Shukumisa
Sounds like: An early December number

To be honest, I thought this track would have made more of an impact than it did, but it seemed to lay relatively low online. This is not to say that it’s a bad track however. ‘Shukumisa’ sees two lyrical heavyweights come together to put out a great bit of hip-hop, wonderfully buoyant in its delivery and timely in its transitions between the two rappers. All in all, it’s a nice holiday-season track to play out loud, wherever you may be.

The Tazers | Shake It
Sounds like: Four minutes of gritty, infectious rock n roll

A new single off their forthcoming EP Love Machine, ‘Shake It’ is a hooky, high-energy track harkening back to The Tazers’ roots that’s sure to be as at home on stage as it is blasting through your headphones. Turn this one all the way up and read more about the single and plans for Love Machine over here.

Yellow House | Control
Sounds like: A song that’ll grow on you

‘Control’ isn’t the type of song that’ll stand out on a first listen. Have it on in the background though, or play through it on a few different occasions and it’ll work its way into your playlist. Yellow House puts out a distinctly melancholic feel on this track, with metered vocals lulling in and out of a steady bassline. There’s some great guitar work in there too, but you’ll need to listen closely.

LUMA | See You again – ft. Tshepang Ramoba and Stru Stru
Sounds like: *Dancing woman emoji, rainbow emoji, star emoji*

LUMA is a new and exciting addition to the local scene and is the efforts of Jenny Dison, Alex Coetzee (LEEU) and a host of collaborators. This track, the melodic makings of Jenny, Alex, Tshepang Ramoba, Thor Rixon and Stru Stru, is a whimsical and simultaneously rhythmic piece of music. Give it a listen below and read more about Jenny over here.

Seventhgaze | Youth Pt 1
Sounds like: *Baby emoji, fire emoji*

Seventhgaze is 18 years old. Does that matter? I dunno hey, but when I was 18 I was too high to move most of the time, so this is pretty impressive by my standards. Anyways, Seventhgaze is Cape Town’s Likhona Camane who, judging by his Soundcloud, is a decidedly versatile and confident beatmaker. ‘Youth Pt 1’ was released through local beat collective and label I Suppose Ja, and is a beautifully dreamy track that makes shrewd use of discordant breaks and shimmering synthscapes. Check it out below and be sure to give Seventhgaze a follow on Soundcloud.

Beat Sampras | Fetty
Sounds like: *Wave emoji, stars emoji*

A stripped down, jazzy rendition of Fetty Wap’s ‘Trap Queen’, Beat Sampras’ ‘Fetty’ is a brilliant example of the duo’s musical prowess. At the core of the track is Fetty’s original vocals which lay the foundations for a minimal percussive section, quietly resolute bassline and dazzlingly crisp guitar strings which announce themselves beautifully.

Music Videos

Mobbing Bali | Maple Syrup
Sounds like: Something different

Mobbing Bali released their debut EP recently (which you can check out over here) and released this visual ahead of the release. Now the vocals are a tad obscure and, at times, can be a bit too dissenting, but it does make for something different. And in the local indie-rock scene, that can only be a good thing. Give ‘Maple Syrup’ a listen below.

Find more Have You Heard? this way. 

Header image by Lauren Mitchell

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