Professor Rhythm: Bafana Bafana (circa 1995, reissued by Awesome Tapes From Africa in 2017)

April 6, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Professor Rhythm: Bafana Bafana

Thami Mdluli is a highly successful South African producer often associated with the style of African pop known as bubblegum, which was popular in the 1980s. Eventually his fans demanded that he started making instrumental recordings, so he adopted the pseudonym Professor Rhythm and began making electronic dance music which bore striking similarities to the then-developing house and garage genres. This is a reissue of a cassette from sometime during the ’90s, and like other period releases that ATFA has reissued, it’s another fascinating merge of then-up-to-date technology with African pop traditions. Actually, this release is far more focused on electronic rhythms, and while there are vocals, there aren’t full verses, and they’re mostly sung in English. The songs are a little bit slower than most house music, potentially drawing comparisons to Belgian new beat, but there’s much more of a rich, bouncy, sensuous sound to these productions, with lots of garage-ish bass tones. The lyrics, as minimal as they are, to tracks like “Leave Me Alone” and “Release Me” point to being trapped in a relationship, or at least infatuation. The vocals alternate between full-bodied diva wails common to the most club-friendly house music and more restrained male vocals. All of the songs are 4 minutes long, and while they all sound pretty similar, they’re all equally effective ass-shakers.

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