Boomkat Product Review:
The debut from 15-piece South African-Mozambican ensemble IzangoMa is an electro-acoustic fusion of spiritual jazz and splintered analog synthesis that dissolves local folk flavors into a lysergic slop of electrified rhythms, tangled riffs and passionate vocals.
IzangoMa started its evolution when vocalist and keyboard player Sibusile Xaba met percussionist and electronics whizz Ashley Kgabo in 2016. Sibusile had been running workshops in Mozambique and wondered what it might be like to incorporate them in the music he and Ashley were working on, and the music began to take on a life of its own. Across 11 tracks, they work not in a top-down fashion, but let the music develop from the sprawling ensemble. "Even this idea of this music being a voice of remembering the feminine energy," Sibusile says. "That wasn’t there. It developed as the music was leading us. And funny enough, every song is talking about mothers. This wasn’t something that we planned."
The band's tracks don't adhere to any established rules, soaking up township styles like pantsula and bubblegum, and blending them into a Sun Ra-style cacophony of jazz and manic electronics. On 'Birds (Of a Feather)' IzangoMa sound as if they're funneling heaving soundsystem sub bass and frenetic drum machine gulps into a moonlit ritual, and 'Q & A' is minimal and dubby, blessed with woozy oscillations and unsettling environmental whirrs. But the band are clearly in their element when they're allowed free reign to jam - the 14-minute 'Mgung u Ndlovu' begins with a cloud-punching horn solo, but quickly fractalizes into an ecosystem of rustling bells, surreal synths and rattly, unstable rhythms.