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Spoek Mathambo

South by Southwest Aftershots

Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., March 23, 2012

Spoek Mathambo

Red 7, March 16

South African sonic scavenger Spoek Mathambo is a master of genres. Listen closely and you'll hear everything from hip-hop and Afrobeat to dub and rock. All this and more was evident at Friday's Sub Pop showcase, but many of the commingled nuances that make Mathambo's music intriguing got buried in the mix. His fourpiece backing band provided plenty of energy, but the drums overpowered everything, which left the interplay between saxophone and keyboards largely inaudible. This made his ballyhooed "township tech" warmed-over funk-rock at times. A soul testimonial noticeably shrunk the already modest audience, but even so, the show's high points provided ample evidence that Mathambo's onto something. His brilliant, skittering reinvention of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control" took the song to places Ian Curtis never could've imagined and birthed a sea of bobbing heads. Closing number "Let Them Talk" from Mathambo's new Sub Pop album, Father Creeper, came off like a left-field rock epic.

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