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Rhapsody Radar 2012: #24 Spoek Mathambo

by Rachel Devitt

Rhapsody Radar 2012: #24 Spoek Mathambo

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Listening to one of Spoek Mathambo's albums can be an intoxicating, brain-exploding and sometimes downright overwhelming experience. Put it this way: Former Rhapsody editor Sarah Bardeen described his 2010 debut as "bratty, glitchy, and flooded with the dance-beats-via-the-global-ghetto sound," while our current cohort Rob Harvilla called him an "art-rock wild man" on his review of this year's much-vaunted Sub Pop effort, Father Creeper.

Getting the picture? This guy's sound is awash with sound, twitching from Afro-futurist funk-rock to knob-twiddling electronic music, from deconstructed soul to art-rock in a moment's notice -- and couching it all in the pop and politics of his native South Africa. His rabidly avant sound makes even more sense when you learn that Mathambo was born Nthato Mogkgata in apartheid-era Johannesburg, went to medical school before dropping out to pursue music, and got his start in groups that played everything from electro-rap to Afrobeat. Nor will it be shocking to learn that he lives in Sweden with his rapper wife (Ana Rab, who performs as Gnucci Banana), guested on a Robyn track ("Dancehall Queen") and earned international cred for a fractured cover of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control." Both his first album, Mshini Wam (which translates as "bring me my machine"), and Father Creeper create an intense, captivating space in which Mathambo explores the politics of his homeland, his own personal life and the farthest outlying parameters of music itself.

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