it is postponed to November!
stay tuned for details
A hybrid musical entity made of dj and live instrumentation consisting of 2, 3, 4, or 5 members, NGOMA Soundsystem fuses Ancestral Rhythms, Acoustic Textures, and Urban Bass Pressure. Drawing from both the wealth of sonic traditions from Africa and beyond as well as up-to-the-minute street sounds worldwide, NGOMA Soundsystem exists in the tension between electronic composition and live improvisation, creating unique “Ancient-Futurist” musical experiences for both concert hall and club, often at once mind expanding and dance-floor smashing.
this recording is a studio reconstruction of our live performance at Fusion Festival.
Dj Zhao: Edits, Mixing and Selection (Berlin)
Werner Puntigam: Trombones (recorded in Linz, Austria)
Marcel: Percussion (recorded in Berlin)
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Fri. 28/09 —- Disofeng Dobsonville
Sat. 29/09—– Club Ozone (N. West)
Sat. 29/09 — Panyaza (with Zinhle)
Sun. 05/10 -– Panyaza
Sat. 06/10 — Vintage life style (pimville)
Sun. 7/10 -— Mofolo Park Stadium (w/ Nick Holder)
Sun. 7/10 -— Pandora Chesa Nyama (Ekhuruleni)
Sun. 7/10 -— Liquid Chef (Rosebank)
(for a version of this article without so many photos, go to This Is Africa.)downtown Johannesburg
At once after touch-down i noticed the modern, international air of Johannesburg, which looked wealthy and stable; and of the friendly, smartly dressed and hip Africans around me, who seemed as informed as anyone in the East Village or London. But soon a more complex picture emerges.
One’s experience of any city can be of course very different depending on where and with whom you spend time. For the grumpy travel writer Paul Theroux, arriving by bus from Botswana, Joburg was scary; for a media person i met in Berlin prior to the trip it was boring, having experienced only the affluent suburbs; for me, it was charming, exhilarating, sad, endearing, informative, familiar, strange, challenging, inspiring, frustrating, and awesome.(part of the) Paint of Coloured Streets team – bigup bigup bigup bigup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!dude on the right is kwaito star Professor’s brother.shot of city center (close to business district) from inside a taxi, parked outside of a shop which was blasting Dj Cleo. outside of Chaf Pozi (below), a club/restaurant located underneath and between the 2 painted towers, from which you can also bungee jump.This was a water-testing show… went pretty well, and as an educational experience it was very valuable as afterwards i had a much better feeling for SA crowds.A Chinese person in Soweto must be an extremely rare occurance; and i have been assured that i was the very first to ever enter a local club, not to mention on stage, behind dj decks. Yet the most extreme reaction from strangers to this very odd anomaly were curious glances, welcoming smiles and delightful disbelief before my sets started, and high fives, cries of joy and hugs when my different but surely recognizable sounds begin. Nearly everyone i met were friendly, inclusive, warm, and open minded; the only garden variety asshole who did not shake my hand when offered, rude and almost hostile, was this dj who spun, perhaps not so incidentally, top-40 American Rap. my main dude Mpho. Bongani with a wicked MC Hammer haircut!A soul singer which i regrettably did not end up jamming with… next time! Soweto TV interview, which aired weekend of 29 September. Also did a short interview with CCTV (funny enough they just happened to be at Chaf Pozi because it was National Heritage Day), as well as Channel-O “Basement” show: 1 hour live video mixing, first time manual beat matching in 6 years, classic Kwaito and Mzansi House 1 take at 10am after 3 hours sleep the night before… will be on rotation all over Africa in the coming weeks. this was a rather cheesy club located within a casino, the only mixed crowd i played to during the entire tour.mixed crowd, unified response!Among the live acts was Family Business – sweet and groovy original dance pop, SA’s answer to D’banj and P-Square? 5 hours at the Museum of Apartheid rendered razor sharp the reality of life under the system named by this Afrikaans/Dutch word, a word which was only an abstraction for me before. The systematic oppression and violence against South Africans in every sphere of life continued in broad day light until 1994: slave labor, abject work conditions and low wages; suppression of education and erasure of African culture; lack of health care; forced segregation; forced relocation of entire communities; normalized hunger, disease, depression; routine degradation, humiliation and violence – a system in which “people were arrested, abused, beaten and banished for trifles”. People who fought for equality and justice (including a few coloureds and whites), who were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered by the police, were nothing but Terrorists in the eyes of most world governments, until as recent as 2008 (when Nelson Mandela was finally taken off of the US Terrorism Watch List). Many nations continued to not only tolerate, but collaborate with the “followers of Goebbels” (Nadine Gordimer) which was the Apartheid regime, until the very end.
All such official edifices to crimes of the state against humanity, be it a museum like this or streets named after civil rights leaders, tell 2 big lies at the same time as acknowledge and commemorate. The establishment makes the struggle seem 1. a part of the past, instead of very much ongoing, and 2. a part of itself, instead of its actual enemy in real life, as it has always been, and currently is. As i absorbed the collection of photographs, films, recordings, text, and objects in this museum (yes, owned by a white guy) which document but a tip of the Apartheid iceberg, i kept in mind of the fact that many injustices continue and that the struggle is far from over.
in 2012, 10% of the population in South Africa is white, yet own 90% of the land (info from a director at the Museum), and hold most of the high paying jobs. With the influx of refugees and impoverished immigrants from other African countries, and add to it corrupt politicians, there is a high level of income inequity. And where ever there is uneven wealth distribution, there is of course crime. in Soweto, which is obviously still very poor, it is actually very safe because of tightly knit communities and their brand of tough street justice. In the rich areas it is also relatively safe because of high security. But in the black suburbs between Soweto and city center and many other areas, where i stayed, it is not good to go out alone at night, as muggings, robberies, and car-jackings are fairly common.
During my 3 week stay close to Soweto, besides the malls in city center (Sandton), a cheesy mixed club within a casino, and tourists in the museum, i saw 6 or 7 white people (who comprise 10% of the population), and 0 East Asians (despite there being hundreds of thousands living in the city). In Sandton groups of friends were nearly always of the same ethnic background, and i saw no mixed race couples at all (but many flamboyant pretty boys holding hands, which was refreshing). The separateness of social spheres in Johannesburg along lines of class and race seems, in my estimation, significantly more pronounced than NYC or Paris.The legendary Panyaza is a world famous spot where people eat fresh braai (BBQ) and rock to pumping South African House and Kwaito delivered by a constant rotation of DJs. An outdoor area enclosed by shops under a huge tent holding 1000 people or more, every Sunday the party starts at noon, gets packed by 2pm, and good vibes flow steadily late into the night. The best sets i heard were deep, techy and tribal house: funky, driving, and percussive, sometimes with vocals in Zulu and other languages, and that unmistakeable South African oomph: “woza woza wozawozawozawoza”. The patrons are very picky, and are known to shut DJs down after the first 5 minutes. The music policy basically boils down to the phrase “no mainstream”, but the word must have slightly different meaning than in Europe and America, as a few played tunes infused with Kenny G type smooth jazz, or cliche R’n'B crooning. My set around dusk of mostly classic Ngoma mashups and edits in the 125bpm range, which included Yoruba Ritual Singing, Ghanaian Jazz, traditional South African drumming and Ethiopian funk all underpinned by Afro-House beats and bass, won over not only the crowd but the club owners and resident djs – the booker welcomed me back any time, and told me on Facebook 1 week later that people were still asking about it. Some mistook the Cameroonian, Pigmy derived flutes of Francis Bebey on one of the edits for Chinese music, which was funny but also makes sense: thise flutes do have an unmistakeable East Asian feel. The sun set as the rhythms got heavier – an unforgettable night.
In a place where the parents of people my age nearly all love Kwaito and new House Music (quick to enter into a discussion of Dj Clock’s recent releases, for example), the “underground” and what constitutes it is also different from the West. Without much generational gap or cultural fragmentation, In South Africa the word seems to mostly mean “music which has not yet made it big”, including the freshest sounds in the streets (Sgubu, for instance, is a new breed of house music stemming from the Mujava camp in Pretoria) I was very disappointed to find out, after searches in vain, that distribution channels for such new sounds simply do not exist in Joburg, often the only access is directly from the artists themselves, at their gigs. In a country so rich with rhythmic and musical ideas it is sad to see so little infrastructure, compared to the rows of neatly stacked white label just-out-this-week dance 12 inches in the specialty shops of rhythmically impoverished Europe. In fact Independent record shops are themselves a rarity in Joburg; there are only, often not well stocked, chain outlets. proper party at Club Ozone in North-West Township, a few hours from Joburg – madness! At this i was able to drop the hard and up-tempo crazy bass set (with plenty of NGOMA percussion edits of course), and the place went bananas! This big outdoor event had a “retro” theme, to which some local fashion labels came out to represent. Mixing up traditional African tribal decorative motifs, patterns, and jewelry with classic western designs and contemporary global trends, the funky outfits from chic and elegant to eye-brows raising unusual were just as deliciously creative and wonderfully varied, often as refined and polished, as style on the hippest streets of Tokyo. One girl pulled off a stunning Goth B-girl Lolita Glam outfit the way only an African beauty can, and next to her a handsome dude in a well fitting thin tweed jacket, Keffiyeh and knee high boots, successfully combining professor, outdoorsman, and international hipster protest. But the sad thing is they told me their brand was “Ancient Reality” (which particularly resonates with me), and that all i have to do is google to find contacts — but later when i tried many searches there was not a single mention of them on any web pages at all. (apologize for lack of more and better photos of some of these great outfits, but if you look closely at the photos above, you can see 1 or 2 indications of what i’m on about)
Althought there is a LOT of great music in Joburg, people’s general taste reflects the business and industrial nature of the city: more commercial compared to places like Pretoria or Durban. But much more troubling is that, judging from my new friends who are really into music, other djs and everyone i spoke to, people in Joburg all know and accept mainstream American ( c )rap and generic Euro Ibiza fodder, but have very little to no idea about new movements in other parts of Africa such as Angolan House, Kuduro, Hiplife or Naija; and no exposure to underground sounds from the West such as UK Funky, Juke, or Moombahton (there are now parties which play Dubstep and Drum’n'Bass, usually of the predictable variety). And when it comes to the incredibly varied and bottomless wealth of African traditional music, South Africans generally seem just as ignorant as Europeans or Americans, having never even heard of Soukous (!). And like many Post Colonial theorists have pointed out, the South to South communication lines desperately needs to be opened: South Africans seem entirely disconnected from India or South America: when i mention Cumbia, Tribal Guarachero, Baile Funk or Bhangra, the response is blank stares.
Glossy US exports with high production value is generally valued more than local culture, which is to me, without a doubt, artistically, intellectually, much more sophisticated, beautiful, and rewarding. When i asked for Shangaan music people in the shops all thought it was HILARIOUS, and start to do little sarcastic rump shaking dances. Even though it is clear that they all enjoy it, they have to make fun of the music because it is not “cool” at all, being perceived as rural and backwards – no one knows that in 2011 the Shangaan tour rocked Berlin’s Berghain, one of the top 10 most famous and prestigious dance clubs in all of Europe.
Life in South Africa is saturated with Kanye and Beyonce, Cosby Show and the Fresh Prince, McDonalds and KFC. Agents like these make up the current tide of insidious cultural imperialism, which asserts dominance with pure economic might, while marginalizing, replacing, and destroying local narratives, melodies, and forms. Between 2 reputable book sellers in Joburg, they had exactly 2 books by black South African writers, while Eurocentric versions of history is taught in schools. With the now adult generation largely deprived of higher education under Apartheid, and the quality of the current under funded education system being among the lowest in the world, US hegemonic brainwashing is particularly effective.
Between 2 reputable book sellers in Joburg, they had exactly 2 books by black South African writers. i picked up one of them by Zakes Mda, (the other one being rare and expensive), along with Jay Naidoo, Rian Malan, and several by Nadine Gordimer. Luckily was given a biography of Julius Malema, and found some titles from other parts of the continent: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Osita Okoroafor, Ferdinand Oyono, and Nozip Maraire. What i was told is that books by black authors, especially the conscious, which is to say often outlawed or exiled ones, were never printed in large quantities if not banned altogether, often circulating only in the underground, and many or most remain out of print.
if the world is living in “the long intellectual shadow of the Age of European Empire” (Satya Mohanty), South Africa is reeling in the immediate aftermath of Apartheid. Yet despite ongoing segregation and injustices as well as foreign cultural infestation, vibrant and strong forms of local cultures survive, mutate, and thrive.
This one, a continuation from Northern Tropikal, takes us right up to the electro apocalyptic edge of the meaning of “tropical”; yet all selections, no matter how cold, synthetic, or mechanical, are driven by a prominent sense of polyrhythm, and use drum patterns derived from African percussive traditions. With a few Angolan tracks and a South African MC rounding off the mix with actual motherland sounds, Bombcast 19 seeks to express the musical and political feelings of this place (Europe) at this time, while pointing to a borderless bass future: at least 1 good thing we can all look forward to in the surely fucked up years to come.
who needs Moombahton when you have Martinique Dancehall:
and in Ghana the Azonto fire just keeps spreading, now completely out of control:
the culmination of a decade’s hard work, this album and remix album is Maga Bo’s Baile Funk masterpiece – infused with loads of Afro-Brazillian drumming and sick vocal contributions from many MC’s, at once warm and organic as well as futuristic and floor smashing. I am honored to have provided the visual concept and graphic design for this project. (and a few of these tunes will find their way into my sets for sure)the inside spread shows graphic depiction of the inside of a slave ship, a Real Note of Brazillian currency, and image of a burning bus during one of many protests and riots of recent years which has come to symbolize social upheaval.
check out optikom for more visual stimulation, and anyone needs design don’t hesitate to contact me: leo (at) optikom (dot) com
bigup http://www.lemonfacefilms.com for the awesome job!
and boom brothers who make an appearance!
“In Europe, rhythm was seen as something “primitive”, “animalistic”, and characteristic of the music of “savages” and the lower classes. These attitudes still persist today: serious music is for silent contemplation, and dance music is largely seen as “entertainment for drunk idiots’. But the opposite is true: European classical music was developed precisely as pure entertainment for the rich, and dance music is descendent of the true musical and cultural heritage of our species.”
from interview by This Is Africa.
one summer night in a historic park on a mountain by the mediterranean sea:
Ever since drums were banned on most slave plantations in N. America during the 1600s, after the masters discovering that the slaves organized revolts with their talking drums, the expression of poly-rhythms in N. American popular music has primarily been through use of the voice. This is the reason music in the US is typified by the simple 1-2 “dupple” rhythm, in contrast to more complex beat patterns in South-America or the Caribbean (which kept their drums). Thus the evolution of all subsequent Afro-North-American music was profoundly shaped, from Blues to Funk to Disco: kick on the 1, and snare on the 2; all the way down to the late 20th Century – complex poly-rhythms in hiphop is produced with rap, and the drums remain a skeletal, minimalistic boom-bap, as if just to mark time.
Now in the 21st Century a renewed sense of rhythmic complexity returns to Afro-North-American dance music in the form of Juke/Footwork in Chicago: interlocking 2s and 3s form intricate beat structures, unmistakeably related to many forms of percussion styles in the motherland (but still often keeping that N. American hard snare on the 2).
This NGOMA volume demonstrates this reconnection, after centuries of separation, between African tradition and Afro-Diaspora: between Nigerian Juju/Fuji music and Chicago Juke/Footwork, between Ethiopian dance styles and Detroit Ghetto-Tech, between Iberian trad-modern street sounds and American R’n'B/Pop, between Afro-Punk and Club Music, between Congolese Mbira workouts and Hiphop, between Ghanaian and Senegalese drumming and Urban Bass Pressure. Let us pump up the volume and remember the power and spirit of rhythm which survives every hardship, cruelty, and oppression, and rejoice in the timeless Music Of the Drums.
big thanks to Keith Jones for knowledge passing, Itzi Nallah, Sonic Diaspora and states side massive for making the Juju-Juke tour possible, my B-girls Jessi and Maya for support.Juju-Juke Tour kick off in Belgrade
I have played this set a few times now during the Serbia, Germany, and US East Coast tour a few weeks ago, and crowds have gone completely BONKERS as the energy went straight through the roof: 500 screaming people and massive MOSH PIT at 3AM during Mikser Festival Belgrade; club crowd which refused to leave, clapping and hollering for 20 minutes after lights went up and sound was turned off at The Shrine Chicago. I guess the world is more than ready for 160 BPM Afro-Footwork pressure!!!
and here is that adrenaline fueled misanthropic juke edit of South African punk rockers Koos by itself (download and drop into your set if you are wo/man enough ):
For the 5th year in a roll, Fusion Festival going to get proper NGOMATIZED Friday 29. June 7-10pm on the Querfeld stage, featuring, for the first time, the mind bending tones and textures of Austrian Trombonist/Multi-Instrumentalist Werner Puntigam, alongside resident drummer Marcel and dj zhao. Will be a Northern Tropikal set in true Afro-Futurist spirit to remember.
UPDATE: When Werner first started going in with the Trombone i felt actual fear. Beautiful monster sounds like a hundred whales or a solar eclipse. The sheer power, finesse, and extraordinary sense of composition this man who comes from an improvisation and free-jazz background brought was simply immense. (Very different feeling from our set last year with trumpeter El Congo) Together with my deep and hard Afro-Tech selections and Marcel’s dexterous drumming, this proper Northern Tropikal set raised a thunder storm which caused entire Fusion Festival to be shut down for 15 minutes.
video was shot by 2 great film makers from Spain on 5 cameras, soon come!
Fan: What is your opinion about music Piracy? Does it hurt you economically?
Steve Albini: I reject the term “piracy.” It’s people listening to music and sharing it with other people, and it’s good for musicians because it widens the audience for music. The record industry doesn’t like trading music because they see it as lost sales, but that’s nonsense. Sales have declined because physical discs are no longer the distribution medium for mass-appeal pop music, and expecting people to treat files as physical objects to be inventoried and bought individually is absurd.
The downtrend in sales has hurt the recording business, obviously, but not us specifically because we never relied on the mainstream record industry for our clientele. Bands are always going to want to record themselves, and there will always be a market among serious music fans for well-made record albums. I’ll point to the success of the Chicago label Numero Group as an example.
There won’t ever be a mass-market record industry again, and that’s fine with me because that industry didn’t operate for the benefit of the musicians or the audience, the only classes of people I care about.
Free distribution of music has created a huge growth in the audience for live music performance, where most bands spend most of their time and energy anyway. Ticket prices have risen to the point that even club-level touring bands can earn a middle-class income if they keep their shit together, and every band now has access to a world-wide audience at no cost of acquisition. That’s fantastic.
Additionally, places poorly-served by the old-school record business (small or isolate towns, third-world and non-english-speaking countries) now have access to everything instead of a small sampling of music controlled by a hidebound local industry. When my band toured Eastern Europe a couple of years ago we had full houses despite having sold literally no records in most of those countries. Thank you internets.
Belgrade, Serbia, Mikser Festival
10:00pm – 4:00am
Samedi 19 Mail 2012
de 23H à l’Aube
@ LA DAME DE CANTON
Quai François Mauriac [Face BNF]
M° Quai de La Gare / Bibliothèque F. M.
PAF : 5€
and on Sunday, on the outdoor terrasse of the same party boat of previous night, Dj Zhao will be spinning all afternoon into the evening.