This record, on which Sibusile Xaba delivers strange and captivating ancestral invocations, is the fruits of an incredible and unique recording session which took place in Paris’ Studio Pigalle at the invitation of Komos Jazz’ mastermind Antoine Rajon. It follows the South African artist’s stunning debut project Opened Letter to Adoniah and Unlearning from 2017.
As Sibusile explains: ‘The record is a dedication to my ancestors for all the love, blessings and guidance they continue to share.These songs are conversations I have had with them, transmitted into songs to be shared with mankind. The elements of the record are waters and the great feminine spirit.’
Maskandi, malombo but also blues (African-American as well as desert) and jazz are all parts of Sibusile Xaba's expansive tapestry, as he presents a modernised, hybridised (in the good sense of the word) version of the ancestral zulu styles of his native Pretoria.
The result is a unique, hypnotic, deeply spiritual sound which not only pays tribute to his mentors Madala Kunene and Dr Philip Tabane, but also echoes the mystical Afro jazz folk songs of Birigwa. The added vocals of his long-time musical companion Kholofelo ‘Naftali’ Mphago on some of the tracks reinforces the sensation of being deep into a musical ceremony in which spirits are invoked.
The highlight of the album is however to be found on the closer track ‘Phefumula’, on which echoes of the world fusion experiments of Ornette Coleman’ circa Virgin Beauty, as well as the other worldly sound of Albert Ayler come to mind. On this 18 minute track (which could have made a record in itself!), Shabaka Hutchings joins Sibusile for a purely improvised trip, which was also recorded in one take that same day. The ensulting conversation grabs you instantly and takes you on a ride along a mystical whirlpool.
“‘Phefumula’ is a journey of still minds, with a focus on the importance and simplicity of breathing. After a practical breathing session Shabaka & I were granted time to explore worlds and receive messages to be shared - we were gracefully granted to be vessels who receive”.
Listen to "Umndeni" here: https://tinyurl.com/4u735t9e