Native Soul: Teenage Dreams (Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2021)

September 23, 2021 at 8:42 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Native Soul: Teenage Dreams

ATFA follows first albums by Teno Afrika and DJ Black Low with another debut from a young act making amapiano, this time the Pretoria-based duo Native Soul. Far from the more hopeful, sweet, pop-oriented amapiano of artists like Sun-El Musician, this is darker, eerier stuff that pushes in more of a gqom direction, although it’s not quite as tense. Still, there’s gun clicks and “Thriller”-type MJ howls on “Way to Cairo”, and suspenseful synth-strings and snare rolls during tracks like “The Journey”. It’s summery music, but it sounds like you’re traveling at night and not sure where you’re going to end up. “Rejoice” is the only vocal track, and even though the title and the touch of gospel organ suggest fervent celebration, it sounds more like it’s clinging to hope out of necessity. “United as One” is an anthem for resistance, although it’s still of a piece with the rest of the tracks and doesn’t cry out too much louder. Energetic, inventive, homegrown dance music that reflects the times instead of merely providing escapism.

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