Born in Soweto, raised in post-apartheid Johannesburg and now based in Sweden, Mathambo has little regard for musical roots and borders. Recently signed to the iconic US grunge label Sub Pop, he boldly claimed in an interview with The National last year that “my influences stretch to all points of the universe”.
Mathambo – real name Nthato Mokgata – certainly crams an impressive range of styles into this eclectic second album, from indie-rock and glitchy techno to the jittery rhythms of South Africa’s vibrant Kwaito and Township Funk dance music hybrids. Tracks like Kites and Dog to Bone are dynamic fusions of rapid-fire vocals and slithering electronics, all interwoven with filigree threads of shimmering Afro-pop guitar. Meanwhile, Put Some Red On It is a shuddering, grinding, MIA-style protest rhyme about conflict diamonds, co-written by Mathambo’s wife, the Swedish rapper Ana Rab – aka Gnucci Banana.
Although Mathambo’s globalised musical crossroads is a commendable notion on paper, the crosstown traffic of ideas gets a little jammed at times. There are plenty of great touches on Father Creeper that never quite gel into great tunes, such as the funk-rock guitar jams on Stuck Together and Grave, which stretch out interminably into pedestrian, sub-Chili Peppers groove marathons.
This rising star of 21st-century Afro-futurism is clearly still feeling his way around the musical map – but all the same, his electrifying energy and widescreen ambition are hard to resist.
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