When Vampire Weekend and Fool’s Gold take inspiration from distant climes, we’re told the results have ‘African rhythms’ or ‘Afropop style’.  It’s a typically insensitive catch-all for the cultural output of a billion people in 54 countries, but what if the situation was reversed? Spoek Mathambo, South African purveyor of ‘township tech’, uses American pop, rock and R&B like crayons, scribbling crunchy guitars over booty bass or accented rap over kwaito beats as he grapples with the un-sunny themes of sex and death. Occasionally the bewildering juxtaposition falls in sync (creepy two-part closer ‘Grave’, for instance) but it’s a jarring ride as lyrics about jiggling your jelly hover disconcertingly over emo-ish guitars, while Mathambo’s sing-rapping follows its own fancy in matters of pitch and key. Whether that’s intentional is hard to deduce; either way ‘Father Creeper’ is essential listening if you think you know African music.

By Chal Ravens

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