Mshini Wamby Roger Young / 13.08.2010
Get Pixar to make you a giant pink wobbly jelly. Put it on a table on Kruis street in front of the butchery, right next to the guy who sells bootleg shangaan electro CD’s in earshot of the taxi rank. Wait for a herd of military elephants to march past on the way to Shell House, and then record the sound it makes. This is, I’m certain, how Spoek Mathambo recorded his new album, Mshini Wam. It’s like Fischerspooner remixed a Trompies cover of a Major Laser’s “Pon De Floor” with bonus political idiocy samples thrown in. To state it plainly, it’s pantsula electro with a submarine bass and it’s fucking fantastic.
It starts off with doom bass, all shoulder slidey and chanty with “Gwababa (Don’t Be Scared)” then the sing-along title track takes it up a notch, effortlessly throwing in some concise political critique over a super smoove beat. The accelerating skank of “Don’t Mean To Be Rude” is a jumpy little number about eating ass out and a variety of haters. “Let Them Talk” with Zaki Ibrahim is silky and precise. His driving vocal delivery on “Gunboat” drags you into social politics and doesn’t let go until he spits you out into “Control”, a reworking of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”, that comes on like a glue sniffing eighties kid discovering DJ Hell. “Douchebag Club” is the kind of dizzy giddy irreverent song that makes people dance like dobermans on ecstasy, their tongues wagging in the cold strobe, pointing fingers at each other while they robot wag their heads and shout the chorus.
Lush and punchy while clean in the deep end, Mshini Wam is an electro album that is actually an album, not just a series of remixes. With an amazing cohesiveness Mathambo changes pace and tempo from track to track without flinching, flipping from the political to the ridiculous with a charm and deftness that prevents any of it from being heavy handed. I have spent no small amount of time looking for something that I don’t like about this album in order to make this review seem like less of a puff piece and I have failed. While reappropriating the term Mshini Wam Spoek Mathambo has indeed brought me my machine.