Busi Mhlongo 'Afro Melt Volumes - The Talented Ones'
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Busi Mhlongo 'Afro Melt Volumes - The Talented Ones'

AfrodesiaMP3 & Electric Melt joined forces to bring you a series that will leave you astounded at the musical talent Africa possesses. Afro Melt Volumes combines the most prolific artist from the Melt catalogue with established and up and coming producers to breathe new life into classic material, remixing them into the various dance genres that are breaking the barriers in the world today.


 

 

 

 

Track Listing

  1. Intro (32:03)
  2. Khuzani Mr. Funk Kade Sas'bona Remix (00:32)
  3. Yapheli’mali Yami Halo & Lars Behrenroth Remix (6:22)
  4. Ukuthula Mr. Funk Weh Bantu Bakithi Remix (7:59)
  5. Ukuthula Sculptured Mix (5:54)
  6. Zithin'isizwe Essential-i Afro Remix (6:14)
  7. Oxamu Zulu Mafia Remix (5:40)
  8. Ngadlalwa Yindoda Soldiers Of House AB Dub Mix (5:18)
  9. Oxamu Soul tonic Ancestral Soul Mix (7:12)
  10. Ngeku Wathola Mandlami Blaq Soul’s Ritual Mix (6.10)
  11. Yapheli’mali Yami Soldiers of House Dub (4:37)
  12. Bhoyi nkokhi's Kanun Remix (6:27)
  13. Bokwanyana Soul Junky Remix (5:56)
  14. Outro (00.35)

Abanqono

Musical creativity, like rust and money, never sleeps
We live in re-mixed multiverse of genres, styles and innovations that require constant exposure, analysis and concentration to fully appreciate. Yet some music still audibly has roots that run deeper than others: Music that has been re-invented while keeping its forerunners, practitioners and ancestors, top-of-mind.

Such a project is Abanqono – The Talented Ones
Music of course is invisible to the naked eye. Likewise the ether, radio and microwave signals through which sms's, hypertexts and code travels in the 21st century. How appropriate then, that the musical re-interpretations of such artists as Busi Mhlongo, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Madala Kunene, Mabi Thobejane, Sipho Gumede, Amampondo and the Xhosa Queens Lungiswa, Madosini and Mantombi – the Abanqono are now journeying largely via the same medium.

Post-Modern in essence, most forms of re-mixing retain memorable melodic hooks, recognizable instrumental flourishes, but more often abandon both tempo and the essential spirit of the original work. In this way, we pay respect to the original artists, but ensure that their work lives on in new forms for this present generation and those to come.

The first in the series features the works of the much respected Busi Mhlongo and in this collection you will find a.o. the likes of Essential-I, Mindlos, Soldiers Of House, Halo and Lars Behrenroth, SoulJunky, Mr. Funk Daddy, Sculptured, nkokhi, Soultonic, Zulu Mafia and Blaq Soul.


"A night in the life of a dedicated writer and fan - Bongani Madondo on Mam Busi"

The danger with writers being too close to their subjects – especially, enigmatic souls like Busi Mhlongo, whose swell of dedicated fans often assumes they know her – is that you end up blurring that sacred line between art, artist and the watcher. Though most hardened scribes will lie about this, for a real fan – and that includes critics, folks the masses (mis)trust for critical arbitration – watching, meeting, or being in the personal or creative orbit of an artist with abilities to transport them beyond their bodily limitations, is, my friend, akin to falling in love.

Being a fan, is at best, an infantile project. Like a child, you throw your trust unto someone who has never asked for it. At its most honest, fan-dom differs not from any religious belief.
The fan undertakes a personal oath, an article of faith – just as long as your desired artist continues delivering what you like, or creating artwork that opens up channels for escape, or reconnection with the self. Thus, every time a true fan meets the artist, it feels like falling in love for the first time.Attending a countless number of Busi Mhlongo's gigs – over fifty, at the last count; from her Civic Center launch, where audiences witnessed Hugh Masekela and Bheki Mseleku bowing before throwing notes into an on-stage hat, to the Union Buildings Millennium Festival show, in which the heavens opened up to release shit loads of rain in the middle of her grand finale, the then unknown songstress TK, vice-clinging my hand, tears, sweat and rain soaking up her oversized top – I have seen Mhlongo's art, breaking and reconfiguring people's to their core. Not so long ago, at the Urban Voices Festival held at Bassline, Newtown, her third show that I attended in a month, I marvelled at individuals rushing the stage, dancing trippy-ly, mad swaying of dreadlocks, and karaok-itschly attempting to sing, note for note, with the master shaman on stage.

My eyes followed the movements of a young man who'd pushed his way right to the front of the stage, upper body shaking in a robot-type dance, as though dismembering his own body parts, and then jumping one beat a second for a good thirty minutes. This was a man evidently lost in a charged-up atmosphere akin to religious surrender, water baptism, sexual release, a mind trip and meditated loss of personal sense, for the sake of being in a shared communion with the artist on stage or with the gods and demons this artist provoked in him.

Later, I would understand why audiences react this way, after driving with a friend for six hours from Johannesburg to Durban, through unforgiving darkness, to attend a Woman's Month gig which she co-led with Mahotella Queens at the legendary Bat Centre. "This is where I first played when I returned home after twenty years in foreign lands. And this is," I remember her pausing, to let it sink in, "where I will retire."

For days preceding that show, we have been in a marathon exchange of telephonic chats. Again, she has not being feeling well, and for somebody who once "interviewed" her, in which she only uttered three words, on the eve of the launch of Urban Zulu, and another, four years later, in which she spoke right up to 4 am – I was kinda'f attuned to her unstated pain by now. Showtime! The Durban dockside-located Bat Centre is packed like sardines the ocean it harbors has long ceased throwing down the beach. Near the entrance, a push-and-shove show takes place, government types and the holloi-polloi, angle for better seating inside the dance hall. Busi Mhlongo takes the stage after an impressive all-women Zulu dance and song troupe set the audience on high alert. What ensued, I don't think the audience was prepared for.

In my daily hustle – in the name of work – scavenging shows locally and around the world, from rock band Skunk Anansie at Madiba's 80th birthday bash, to 1997's Fugees Live at The Brixton Academy, backed by The Wailers, to Salif Keita live at Vista Soweto Campus, add BoomShaka's all-time edgy, experimental at the Rosebank Fire station, circa 1996 – I make for a pretty jaded live music fan. Yet Busi Mhlongo's show conveyed the message with hard-hitting beauty: blessed are the jaded, for they, too – ‘pon experiencing a musical baptism of this nature – shall inherit the earth, or the grooves, or both.  The band was on a deep funk, and gospel-meets-lounge music element. Syrupy bass, sparse, spaced out keyboards that out bass'ed the bass, and the guitars wailing in tandem with the drummer, who seemed to be keeping the center holding, but was not in fact. Though the intent was noble, there was something annoying about the sound. People didn't seem to notice though, or care. Ever alert, Mhlongo's body language conveyed a bit of displeasure but the problem persisted, at which point something other than her mere self, took over as the band settled onto the third track. She took control. Her usually shriek-ful vocals blended, and then rose a whisper above the guitars. She stood there, dead still, heat, make-up, sweat and the reddish lighting giving her a face a bloodied Aztec or West African mask resemblance, and with all the power she could summon from her belly, and every pore in her body the artist let rip into "uMethisi", from her debut album Bhabemu, in the most beautiful voice I have ever heard sung live. Her repertoire and choreography, halted only with occasional, teary announcements – "I love you, let's appreciate love, what God gave us" – was of an initiate performing an abangoma ritual, a passage into the world of healers and marabouts. The audience was there but not aware of her: she belonged to some other time.

Busi Mhlongo the wailer gave way to the balladeer, the artist gave way to the healer, the healer beckoned the priest, who led us to a brothel, where body and soul merges, even if it's for a five-minute duration of the rhythmic snake dance, back to the stage where the tame Zulu woman about to celebrate her 60th birthday, gave way to a rock-star chic, an Afro alien-Funk Goddess on a futuristic mission to convert the non-believers.
 
Bongani Madondo

® & © 2011 MELT MUSIC PHASE Two cc P.O. Box 2907 Parklands 2121, Johannesburg. All rights of the producer and of the owner of the work reproduced reserved. Copying, Public performance, Broadcasting and hiring out directly or indirectly of this recording is prohibited. MADE IN SOUTH AFRICA.

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Photography by Peter Wiliams
Design and imageing by www.jonkempdesign.co.uk