Discerning listeners may already be familiar with the sounds of Fantasma from 2014's critically acclaimed EP “Eye of the Sun”, complete with gorgeous music videos- but it is with their debut LP Free Love, that the wild, freewheeling world of this South African band is finally unveiled in all its widescreen glory.
Occupying its very own distinctive universe, Fantasma's music is described as Guzu, a style based on fusing traditional South African styles with western forms; where township house rubs shoulders with hip hop, and maskandi rhythms melt into shangaan electro. Free Love offers a glimpse into a musical dimension quite unlike any other.
The Fantasma collective is comprised of DJ Spoko, percussion mastermind on DJ Mujava’s hit “Township Funk” and pioneer of Bacardi House. Andre Geldenhuys, a guitarist from Kommetjie and former member of the rock group Machineri; Bhekisenzo Cele, a legend of the south coast KwaZulu-Natal music scene, and Michael Buchanan on drums. Last but not least, there’s Spoek Mathambo – one of South Africa’s most forward thinking and renowned artists, whose lengthy resume exposes his restless and creative spirit – last year alone has seen him making the feature length documentary, “Future Sounds of Mzansi”, which delves into the various strands of South African electronic music.
Just as each of its members come from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the country, so the music they make as Fantasma is rich, endlessly inventive and resolutely genre-defying without ever sounding jarring. This is ultra-modern sonic dynamism.
So Basbizile opens the album like a call to arms, with Mathambo declaring they will be “kicking down borders”, before the instrumental Sophiatown, leading seamlessly into the anthemic chants of the effervescent My Wave. Then there’s the swoonsome sway of new single Shangrila, featuring Moonchild, the rapidly ascendant vocalist from the bustling Durban music scene. It comes complete with a deliciously off-kilter video directed by Golgotha, with illustrations by Otto Splotch. Taken together, they form an extremely potent introduction to the thrilling, boundary melting oeuvre of Fantasma – and the musical landscape of 2015 is all the more exciting with them in it.
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