Bongeziwe Mabandla – amaXesha
Over the past decade, South African singer-songwriter Bongeziwe Mabandla has been reimagining Xhosa folk music. His 2012 debut album, Umlilo, was a largely acoustic effort, combining the genre’s yearning choral harmonies with finger-strumming guitar and an underlying sense of jazz swing; five years later, on Mangaliso, he introduced electronic rhythms, which pulsated beneath his lyrics on love and loss and propelled the dancefloor stomp of his most popular song to date, Ndokulandela. Following the heartbreak-fuelled introspection of 2020’s Iimini, amaXesha (or The Times) vaults to the other end of the scale as his most expansive and wide-ranging record to date. Across its 14 tracks, Mabandla fuses Xhosa lyrics with electronic ambience, hook-laden synth melody and acoustic simplicity.
Read the review in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 28/04/23]