The idea that one should support music for the sake of it being local is one that often comes across as desperate. The idea of ‘Local is lekker’ or ‘Proudly South African’ separates local tracks from the rest of the world and reeks of tokenism – much like being that kid in class who gets the end-of year certificate for ‘class participation’. Jumping Back Slash (JBS) – from Wigan but now very much a South African – manages to dodge this problematic issue: his third EP of this year is an example of flexing like no other. The four tracks that consist of what JBS describes as Afrotronical Space music – a mixture of big room, RnB, Gqom and Kwaito – a concoction which mixes both a distinct South African element with broader international electronic music influences. All in all it’s a refined, crisp collection of tracks that fail to disappoint.
Opener ‘Plateaux’ kicks off in with a massive menacing kick drum which sets the tone for the rest of the EP – brooding amongst a deep synth it’s like a sitting on the shore and seeing independence day space ship-like clouds coming at you. While the first splashes of synth are reminiscent of DJ Majuva’s ‘Township Funk’, the track is patient and considered, building tension, preparing you for the tracks to follow.
With near-seamless continuation ‘Blue Smoke’ proceeds, adding in an additional bass wobble that sounds like bending a massive piece of plywood. The real magic of this track however is the deft selection of Mary J Blige’s ‘Family Affair’ as a chopped up vocal a cappella to harmonise with itself.
The true battle cry though, lies in the third track of the EP, ‘Always Unfinished But Never Outgunned’. With a vocal sample repeating, “I just had to shut you down” the track expands over an immense sonic landscape. With a solid kick at its foundation, claps, synths and tribal-like drums rattle throughout, spreading the blast radius of the track every second. Its energy is tangible, relentless and unforgiving.
Lastly, ‘U See What I See’ is a subtle and understated track, perfect for catching your breath after the previous track. At times it sounds like more of a soundscape than a dance tune, exploring the progressive side of things with samples which could’ve come from a Constantia housewife’s Yoga-meditation Mixtape. The vocal cooing, however, adds a human touch to the song that not only acts as a touching way to finish off the track but also concludes the EP perfectly.
Fellow Radius contributor Kevin Minofu IM’d me about this EP, saying it “is lush upon lush upon lush”. Evident in these four tracks is an astute awareness of both the South African and International contexts, treating them as one and the same which has resulted in a dense and complex product which stands as a careful creation that considers South Africa’s broad diverse context and is a product that deserves to be called proudly South African.