Just as we couldn’t stop jiggling to Batuk’s thumping dance-evoking house treat “Call Me Naughty”, Batuk releases a third official single off their upcoming album, Musica da Terra (pre-order here), along with a new fan-made video. The song is called Gira, which is Portuguese for ‘turn around’, and according to Batuk’s Facebook, it’s a “song of protest, calling for change”.
Batuk is a pan-African creative collective founded by electronic music producers Spoek Mathambo and Aero Manyelo, with vocalist Nandi Ndlovu and Mozambican poet Carla Fonseca. Their artist statement highlights the need to challenge xenophobic sentiments in South Africa by bridging different African countries based on shared and exchanged rhythm culture and language. Their aim is to provoke a shift in perceiving paradigms of futurism, which are often based on foreign/Western standards. As they state: “We aim to create a live suite of music, to challenge and break through these ideas, as well as build new models of collaboration between urban and rural musicians in the African context. Our future as African musicians lies in recovering, exploring and expanding on ancient music ideas as well as re-balancing hierarchies in how modern music is analyzed and critiqued.”
By now I’m convinced that Spoek Mathambo is a man who doesn’t sleep. Either that or his superpower is being out-of-this-world effective and productive in an inspiring way just like for instance this man or this woman. How else is he able to come up with new projects time after time and have them work for a cause as well as they do? We have barely turned around and he’s been going back and forth and forth again from his solo work, directing a documentary on South African house music, Future Sound of Mzansi (with a catchy slogan: welcome to the apartheid afterparty), to founding bands such as Fantasma, running weekly podcasts about South African house music titled Teka Tuesday, and now Batuk. Spoek Mathambo is a gardener of culture, cultivating his surroundings and bringing forth new acts, sounds and new inspiring music.
If you’re even remotely interested in afrohouse and South African house, chances are you’ve already seen Batuk’s first video, Daniel, shot in Mozambique, and featuring two styles of “spirit dancing” from Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe: Nyau and Mapiko.
If this is not enough, then have OkayAfrica quality prove that for you – Batuk is that pan-African collective you oughta now! And now, spoil your ears and let this intelligent dance music take you on a trip worth taking.