Father Creeper - Spoek Mathambo

Sub Pop

Seldom is fashion forward music more than skin deep. There's a big difference that defines Father Creeper from Spoek Mathambo. The album is high art, make no mistake, but as repeated listens slowly encourage your ears to strip away the glorious draping of electronica, hip hop, thrash, cyber and organic elements, you are left with more than an emaciated form and a pretty face. Father Creeper is as deep as it is wide. Spoek envisions a near future for his native South Africa and beyond, embracing the whole of the dark continent. It smacks of the terrifyingly familiar images conjured by master novelists of the form. Imagine if William Gibson spent more time in Johannesburg than Vancouver in the idyllic North West. Global music fans looking for the expected touchstones of ethnic musical relevance will find few apart from smatterings of talking drum and the township guitar skank on the disc's most accessible track, Dog To Bone. But, Father Creeper (the title refers to a sleazy South African TV jingle) provides plenty of insight to the dichotomies of modern day African life and how those will inevitably shape the continent's future. Spoek himself started rapping at 12 years of age, just 2 years after apartheid was finally vanquished. This is the artist's second album derived from a starting point of what he terms, "Township Tech". His band adopted the moniker, Mshini Wam or 'Bring me my machine' and the music was co-designed with a childhood friend, pianist Theo Tuge (the two visionaries began their descent into weirdness together as choir boys). The album's first single, Put Some Red On It, showcases Father Creeper's multi-faceted poetry in an intelligent commentary on conflict diamonds; this one, ironically not written by Spoek but by his Swedish wife, Ana Rab (aka Gnucci Bananaa). To continue the riff on fashion, Father Creeper is not a cohesive runway collection but a mash up in every sense. Common threads would include Spoek's own slightly disembodied delivery and the prevalence of chunky, angular synths. Once again the klaxon sounds and the scribes beat their chests, "But, is this or is this not world music!?" I'm afraid not; that bird has flown, but neither is it the sickeningly sweet milquetoast foisted on us by the North American pop machine. Dare to creep deeper and you will find reward.