VAR­I­OUS ARTISTS Shangaan Elec­tro: New Wave Dance Mu­sic From South Africa

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

(Hon­est Jon’s) Over the past decade, South Africa has be­come a hot­bed of global club mu­sic. The warped house mu­sic of kwaito, the spooky throb of South African psy­trance, and the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the Afrikaans rap move­ment have all at­tracted se­ri­ous at­ten­tion from global tastemak­ers. Shangaan elec­tro is the lat­est ad­di­tion to the coun­try’s dizzy­ing ar­ray of elec­tri­fied, eth­nic dance mu­sic. Cre­ated by Soweto town­ship mu­si­cians, Shangaan blends the sounds of mbira (the thumb pi­ano) with some se­ri­ously cranked-up syn­the­sizer rhythms that reach 180 beats per minute. Oddly ab­sent of bass lines, this mu­sic ar­ranges choral har­monies atop deliri­ously fast tem­pos to cre­ate dance songs that are light, airy, and un­du­lat­ing. This com­pi­la­tion by a London in­die record la­bel spot­lights some of the best Shangaan tracks to emerge over the past five years. Some of the high­lights in­clude “Nwamp­fundla” by the Tshet­sha Boys, a mu­sic group and dance troupe that per­forms ac­ro­batic Shangaan foot­work dances while wear­ing clown masks. The four tracks by Zinja Hlung­wani — the much-lauded star of the genre — are awash in twisted synths and gor­geously haunt­ing vo­cals. His song “N’wagezani” (Gezani’s Daugh­ter) sounds like an ethe­real cross be­tween hard-hit­ting, street-tough Chicago juke house and the lilt­ing is­land sound of West In­dian ca­lypso. This blithe in­dif­fer­ence to genre blur­ring is why South Africa re­mains at the van­guard of new dance-mu­sic styles. — Casey Sanchez

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