Welcome to the second volume of Have You Heard?, 10and5’s regular round-up of some of the best music to come out of South Africa in the past month.
September’s certainly been a good month for local music. From the get go we had birthday medleys from Daev Martian, Winter slumber originals from TSA, and out-of-the-blue mixtapes from Distruction Boyz. Later, we had new music videos from Shortstraw and Native Young, much anticipated EPs by Felix Laband and Card on Spokes, sound projects by Healer Oran and as usual, a host of newcomers forging their own respective sounds.
Spring has settled in, Cape Town’s dreary, Jozi is dry, Durban is balmy, and we all dance on as usual.
Felix Laband | Bag of Bones
Sounds like: Felix is back!
Just in! Laband the man brought out his latest EP today, a four-track collection of remixes and reprises. ‘Bag of Bones’ is a forlorn track, just Felix and his guitar, while the Luke Vibert remix of ‘Righteous Red Berets’ sees a newly revitalized sound shine through original samples. A stand out track is the infamous ‘Donkey Rattle’ which Felix reprises through added 1960s protest samples to posit the idea of the same revolution under a new government. Grab a copy here and while you’re at it, check out this video of his recent European tour, filmed by Andrew Aitchison.
Card on Spokes | As We Surface
Sounds like: *endless flame emojis*
Card on Spokes achieves a tremendous amount with this EP. Not only is it expertly produced and mastered, but it also marks the merging of two seemingly disparate genres – that of jazz and electronic music. On the EP you’ll hear contributions from the likes of Shabaka Hutchings, Siya Makuzeni, Marcus Wyatt and long-time Card on Spokes collaborator, Bonj Mpanza. The result is a complex and deeply rich blend of slick jazz movements and highly textured electronic soundscapes, nearly overwhelming in their depth, but nonetheless accessible to a far-reaching audience. Don’t miss out on this one. Listen to the preview below and grab the EP on iTunes.
Fever Trails | Wax Bridge
Sounds like: ???
Try as I may, I can’t seem to describe in words how Fever Trails’ latest EP sounds. I suppose at first listen it brought up images of a Future Cape Town on a balmy night, or really any strange land where dystopic skyscrapers rival high-reaching palm trees against ochre-coloured skies. Sounds weird, I know, but that’s Fever Trails for you. What I can say is that the delightful scat-like delivery that’s present at points in all three tracks on the EP are the mark of a producer who’s entirely at ease with the music they’re making. That ease translates well in Wax Bridge, providing for a brilliant listen. Since its release, Wax Bridges has also gone through a few remixes, all of which you can find on the EP’s label, Quit Safari.
Bhubesii | Kobayashi
Sounds like: Fiiiinally
We’ve been waiting for the release of this EP ever since Bhubesii released the title track sometime last year. Coming in at seven full tracks, Kobayashi is an impressive piece of work. It’s full of discordant soundscapes and measured vocals that really allow the instrumental sections to shine through in equal measure. At its best, Kobayashi pulls through with a new age rendition of classic kwaito beats, most evident in tracks like ‘Chankura’ and ‘New Age Tariyana’. There are also some solid hip-hop numbers, and two features by the infallible MashayaBhuqe ka Mamba which add to the overall diversity of the EP.
yoyo | Juice
Sounds like: A hip-hop renaissance
Cape Town beatmaker yoyo just released his 12 track beattape Juice, a committed collection of hip-hop beats that range from the golden-era to the contemporary. It’s a playful collection of sounds, simple in its delivery, but deliciously intricate upon a closer listen. This should go without saying, but Juice really does require a full listen through, start to finish.
Daev Martian | BirthDaev Medley …RRRRrrrah
Sounds like: A sonic celebration
Who says you can’t wish yourself happy birthday? Daev Martian kicked off the Spring season and his own day of birth with a smooth and soulful medley of sounds. In the five minute track you’ll hear some funk, some soul, a bit of beat scene and a whole lot of groove. He also put out a track via Jozi’s ISupposeJa collective which is worth checking out too. Happy belated Daev, and thanks for all the music.
Healer Oran | The carvings in burnt tape (loop)
Sounds like: History as art and art as history
Oh dear, here’s one for all of you ‘there’s no substance to electronic music’ types. Produced as part of an exhibition at Wits’ Department of Anthropology, Healer Oran’s latest sonic medicine uses archival tapes of the music of 1960s Tsonga. “I felt a great disconnect from the source material due to the flawed and outdated methodologies used by the researcher which framed the performers as “subjects” rather than understanding or putting forth their experiences and culture,” says Healer Oran on the track. What follows then is a stripped down, raw, and essential piece of music, at once educational and emotive.
Chee | igotproblems
Sounds like: Metallic crunchy peanut butter
Chee goes large with this one. Which is saying something because Chee arguably goes large with every track he puts out. ‘igotproblems’ is a wonderfully gritty piece of music, haunting in parts and soaked in crisp industrial sounds throughout. If you don’t know Chee yet, grab your headphones and head over to his Soundcloud here.
FRNGE | Temp
Sounds like: FRNGE has been watching Stranger Things
The debut single by FRNGE (formerly Two Lives Left) is a dreamy, spacey and somewhat haunting piece of music that’ll easily sit on repeat. The artist makes use of simple percussive work in the onset before weaving together a dramatic tapestry of arching synths and warbling basslines. He’s got an EP set to come out soon so you’d best keep an eye on his Soundcloud.
Fre-D x Le Prezident | Chelu
Sounds like: *drum emoji* *speakers emoji*
Fre-D and Le Prezident have long sought to incorporate African Heritage into the urban, contemporary scene. Since first collaborating in 2013, the two have come to form a solid working relationship, evident on ‘Chelu’ which they released mid-month. According to the duo, the track “portrays the mindset of the young African child, in his perception of freedom, success and jubilation, against all the odds.” Listen below.
Rooinek | Error
Sounds like: The Lesser Spotted South African Techno
Rooinek, the ‘East Rand duo’ comprising Thami 2 Shoez and Vox Portent, brought out a new single via Hadedah recently. It’s a frenetic track, roped together with swaying, melodic vocals by Thami. The single comes not too long after Rooinek’s debut EP which is also well worth a listen.
MR BLOUSE | WTF (Squared) ft. Joni Blud
Sounds like: A great find
“I’m that rapper you don’t know what to do with / I don’t fit into your little box of stupid.”
I don’t remember how exactly I came across MR BLOUSE, but I’m very glad I did. In WTF (Squared), the only track on the artist’s Soundcloud so far, metered vocals stroll across an understated and rhythmic beat. Towards the end of the track, synths build up to a heady rise, before switching tempo again resulting in a dizzying and hazy listen. In the final moments, sprightly trills announce themselves to end it all off perfectly.
Andrew Esterhuizen | Sore Eyes
Sounds like: *Alien emoji* *Church hands emoji* *Dancing woman emoji*
Andrew Esterhuizen is, for those who don’t know, the man behind Andy Islands. He’s recently put up a host of tracks on a personal account, ‘Sore Eyes’ being a stand out number. It’s a busy piece of music full of zealous movements and cheeky percussion. If you like this one, head over to his Soundcloud to check out the rest.
Bi4ocal (Shaolin) | So Much You Say
Sounds like: An early summer groove
Under Pressure Sundays has become a regular stop on my Soundcloud journeys. The beat-making collective consistently puts out musical gems by lesser-known producers, tracing their progress as they improve and refine their respective sounds. ‘So Much You Say’ by Bi4ocal (Shaolin) has been on repeat for some time now. It’s a silky smooth track kept on its toes by sporadic drum beats and elegant bursts of synth. Check out the rest of the tracks on Under Pressure’s Soundcloud.
Bugzito | Di Bacardi
Sounds like: Bacardi House on uppers
A nod to that iconic Mujava and Spoko number, ‘Township Funk’, ‘Di Bacardi’ leads in slow and then swoops in suddenly and without warning. Stripped bare of its signature militant snares in place of a pulsating bassline, the original Bacardi House track gets an energetic makeover along with original vocals that slot themselves into the beat with a playful swagger.
TSA | Winter Baby
Sounds like: *Rose emoji* *Snowflake emoji* *Fire emoji*
TSA’s been busy lately and each release seems to get better. ‘Winter Baby’, a simultaneously brash and deeply intimate track, is a good example of TSA’s penchant for lyricism – melodic with an emphasis on the narrative, interspersed with witty one-liners. A few weeks after this release, TSA also brought out ‘Blue Lights’, a sincere ode to his brother, friend, and business partner Bambatha Jones. You can check out both tracks on TSA’s Soundcloud.
Distruction Boyz | Heavy Groove mixtape
Sounds like: *disco man emoji* *pill emoji* *speakers emoji*
If you don’t know Distruction Boyz yet, shame on you. Even News Café plays their music now. The Durban-based duo recently dropped a new mixtape through an unassuming Sendspace.com link and the result is 35 minutes of pure unashamed house, sghubu and gqom. Grab the mix over here.
Card on Spokes | Bantwanas Session #9
Sounds like: A beginner’s guide to Card on Spokes
If you’ve never come across the music of Shane Cooper’s moniker, Card on Spokes, this is an excellent place to start. In the mix for Bantwanas you’ll find a host of his own stuff, both old and new, seamlessly blended into a wealth of tracks by other South African artists including Moonchild and Maramza, Spoek Mathamba, Dear Ribane and more. Pity about the OkMalumkoolkat he threw in at the end, it would’ve been a perfect mix otherwise.
Shortstraw | Ignorance is Bliss
Sounds like: Is this Shortstraw?
Gentle vocals tip-toe along whimsical keys before a crashing, anthemic chorus swoops in to drive Shortstraw’s latest number home. ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ sees a surprising departure of sound for the Jozi-based indie-kwela outfit. It’s a rhythmic and wholly compelling track that draws much of its strength from its delightful simplicity. The video too, is simple – a band, a garage, shrewd lighting and a lo-fi haze. We’re very keen to hear how their upcoming album turns out, but for now this video will do just fine.
Native Young | Crystal Lion
Sounds like: Refined local goodness
Oof! Native Young have outdone themselves with this one. Organic acoustic notes open up an extensive soundscape into which jumps a gripping bassline and resounding chorus. The video – an adventurous, raw and emotive offering – echoes the track beautifully. Keep an eye on Native Young. There’s certainly more to come
Jakinda | OMG
Sounds like: The soundtrack to a South African horror film
The thing you need to know about Jakinda is that he doesn’t limit himself to music. He’s a well rounded conceptual artist and his talent is evident in this video. ‘OMG’ comes off Jakinda’s debut EP and the video, directed by LARSBARS, is brilliantly cut to the trance-like nature of the track, treading the line between music, video, and performance art. Watch it below and find out more about Jakinda here.
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