DIFF Reviews: Future Sound of Mzansi
Bob Perfect leaves Spoek Mathambo’s doccie on South African electronic music wanting to dance.
I still remember the first local electronic song that piqued my interest. I found Sibot’s Super Evil with Waddy Jones on one of those SL compilations which, up until then, were most notable to me for featuring a track by Candice Hillebrand. From that song I later found The Fantastic Kill, which was an album by Waddy, Sibot and a someone who was new to me at that time, Spoek Mathambo. Spoek would later work with Marcus Wormstrom in Sweat X and then go solo, Waddy would become Max Normal, later Ninja in Die Antwoord, and Sibot would keep evolving as himself. My favourite though, out of the three, has always been the enigmatic Spoek Mathambo. I find him to be adventurous and he pushes boundaries with an incredible pop sensibility that I have nothing but respect for. So, naturally, when I heard he was producing a documentary about electronic music in South Africa, I was always going to be first in line to see it.
We’ve all come a very long way from those early days and Future Sound of Mzansi is a look at where we’re from, where we’re at and where we’re going. The film is a rather broad look at electronic music from all around the country and the personalities behind that music. While it’s not the deepest exploration of the subject, it is a great primer for many people who aren’t well versed in the who’s who of SA’s eclectic electronic music scene and the new sounds coming out of Mzansi. Sounds like Qgom, the relatively new genre of low-fi house music produced in shacks in Durban, Shangaan Electro, a genre started by Nozinja that seems to be bigger overseas than here, and Bacardi House straight out of Atteridgeville, Pretoria. For those who are ignorant to how progressive the music coming out of this country is, Future Sound of Mzansi is an eye opening experience. Why so many people choose to fist pump to Bigroom House every week when they could be getting down to groovy af, experimental, locally produced tracks, I’ll never know.
Spoek and director Lebogang Rasetheba travel all over the country chatting to some of the most charismatic, influential and knowledgeable musicians in Mzansi including Sibot, Felix Laband, Okmalumkoolkat, Black Coffee, Zaki Ibrahim, John Wizards and whole host of noteworthy names. It had to be said that there is a lack of female representation, which is a constant problem in local films, and at times it does feel like Spoek is mostly chatting to his friends, the thing is though, those friends are impressive and the conversations they have are illuminating so it doesn’t weaken the film. There are some deeply personal conversations, like Felix regretting having his first hit of heroin and DJ Mujava talking about landing up in a mental hospital ‘cause of weed. There’s discussions on how the internet has shaped things, like Nozinja getting big overseas despite not being appreciated here, and how distribution in SA can be very DIY with taxis being the first port of call for many underground musicians to get their music out there. A personal highlight for me was Machepies calling Cape Town behind the times but that they’re catching up. In the predominantly white rock music scenes, Cape Town is heralded as a Mecca, so to hear that it’s not seen like that by everyone was refreshing.
Future Sound of Mzansi is a very slick film shines a light on how diverse the South African electronic music scene and the personalities behind it are. It’s by no means conclusive or all encompassing but rather an introduction, the onus is on the viewer to pick up the ball and explore further for themselves once they leave the cinema. It has it’s flaws, no doubt, but that’s for the serious film critics to address. For anyone remotely interested in the unique audio flavours of this country, this film is a must see. You’ll leave the cinema looking for the nearest jol playing the freshest sounds of Mzansi.
Future Sound of Mzansi will be showing again at Musgrave on the 25th at 22:00 and at Ekhaya Kwamashu on the 27th at 13:00.
I’m going to be at the KZNSA tonight for the opening of the short films and then to Live for The Brother Moves on but for those of you looking for something else, Shanelle Jewnarain recommends Beti and Amare and had this to say “Beti and Amare is a beautifully crafted micro budget sci-fi set in 1936 in war torn Ethiopia. Beti is sent away from the violence in the city to safety in the South where she encounters an unexpected visitor from the sky. This debut feature from film maker, Andy Siege is a genre blurring experience not to be missed. Andy will be at tonight’s screening at Suncoast Casino at 22:30, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to chat to this talented and innovative film maker after the film.