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I don’t know anything about John Wizards. In fact I don’t think I’d heard his name before today, isn’t that terrible? I’m getting slack in my old age. Anyway, he’s got an album out on Planet Mu so I’d better start figuring out who he is. I just put the CD on and it started out with some adventurous bright synth weirdness and over the course of a couple of tracks it’s developed into some sort of African style electro-dance business with glistening digital coupé décalé-esque digital beats and dubby dancefloor grooves. I just read in the press release that he is a band...or a person...or both? I’m confused. He/they are from South Africa and there’s nods to their native Shangaan Electro movement here too I think.
Just when I think I’m getting a handle on what’s going on he throws me off yet again with some lo-fi Afrobeat guitar cut into ‘Muizenberg’’s hard lolloping computer beats and Dirty Projectors-esque crooning that develops into some warm and lazy r’n’b before bringing that twangy guitar and earthy bass back in. ‘iYongwe’ then repeats a hook so catchy and feel-good that it makes you say “Daft who? Get what?”; although it may go on for a little too long it’s sure to earn them some money for use in the background of adverts and TV trailers.
As the album progresses it’s really striking me how creatively produced this is. The bass is always punchy and there’s a whole grab bag of influences flying around from all over Africa as well as Jamaican and Western touches too. It’s a celebratory and mostly uplifting buffet of cleverly programmed beats and genre-defying electro acoustic r’n’b/Afrobeat/Shangaan electro/dub reggae concoctions that’s very hard to pin down in half an hour and a couple of paragraphs, but if you like your music exotic and upbeat and mysterious I strongly recommend this.
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