Nozinja is the recording moniker of South African Richard Mthetwa. Nozinja Lodge is his debut album. It takes the adrenaline-fuelled beats of Shangaan Electro, a South African sub-genre of EDM that Nozinja is at the forefront of, and delivers it to the rest of the world. Double vinyl LP and CD on Warp.
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If you’ve ever felt in need of an antidote to all the moody, greyscale techno, up-its-own-arse electronica and leaden dubstep that currently proliferates, I’d definitely recommend this LP of relentlessly vibrant, upbeat to the point of surreality, high energy soul music.
I remember first coming across some of the unique dance music styles going on in South Africa through a mix by a member of Hyper Dubsters LV about five years ago. Since then there’s been a trickle of releases showcasing different flavours of South African electronic music, one of the most notable being Honest Jon’s Shangaan Electro compilation. Now I guess this full-length effort on Warp by Shangaan pioneer Richard Mthewa, aka ‘Nozinja’ just seals the deal with regards to South Africa’s place in the firmament of international dance music.
What we get across the album’s ten tracks is a tour-de-force of Nozinja’s 10+ years of perfecting this style: featuring his tightest rhythms, intricate marimba bass lines and surprisingly lush and bubbly synth melodies; all sprinkled with those trade mark pitched-up rhythmic vocal stabs. In terms of frenetic bpms and pitched-up tonalities, (not to mention the almost superhuman dancing feats that accompany the music) Shangaan is not a million miles away from the defiant exuberance of Chicago Juke, except that it’s a hell of a lot more melodic. There are interesting strains of traditional styles feeding through the veneer of afro-futurism– check for example the call and response chanting riding the frenetically skipping beats in "Mitshetsho We Zindaba" and "Vamaseve Vatswelani". And then there are the superb deep-soul vocal performances of opener "Nwa Baloyi" and closer "Wo Va Jaha", which expresses a sense of longing that puts another light on the Shangaan phenomenon.
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