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DJ Mujava/various artists: Ayobaness! The Sound Of South African House

DJ Mujava/various artists: Ayobaness! The Sound Of South African House

Label:Out Here
Release Date:2010

By Michael Byrne | Posted 6/2/2010

Most likely it was DJ Mujava's ubiquitous, 2008 blow-up "Township Funk" that put the words "South African house" in the mouths of globe-curious clubgoers. And in the so wide but so narrow next-big-thing world, perhaps it's remained the only name in South African house. But how couldn't you dote on it, a track so alien, yet so organic and approachable? No doubt a wider primer on the style was due, and the Out Here label delivers it with Ayobaness!, a disc almost staggering in its range and general opening up of many different sounds and ideas via something as generally limited as regional house music.

Which actually shouldn't be much of a surprise--the specific style here is known as kwaito, a hybrid of house music and traditional African music; South Africa is, after all, the site of a unique and harsh cultural collision. And looking at kwaito as "house" is probably an unnecessary, self-limiting misnomer anyhow, having more to do with the naming-rights associated with which side of the Western divide you happen to be on--and, for that matter, target audience. We are, after all, the ones being introduced to this music.

A regional strain of house like, say, Baltimore club could be seen as limiting the genre, taking already sub-divided local styles like hip-house and Chicago house and cutting it down and adapting it even more. This kwaito stuff takes house, already a big wide mess of different subgenres, and blows it up. So you've got things like hybrid trance music sharing space with Euro-flavor electro-house with inward deep-house groove--coupled with heavily accented group chants, near-raps, and whatever the hell you could call the vocals of Pastor Mbhobho. And beneath that are several different percussive styles--all dense and dynamic, most organic and earthy--all vying for attention in what winds up feeling like a scant 13 tracks.

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