IzangoMa, a 15 piece experimental collective hailing from Pretoria, South African, today announce details for the release of their debut album ‘Ngo Ma’ on May 26, 2023 on digital and 12” double vinyl formats via Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings label (also home to Kokoroko, Doom Cannon and Sons of Kemet’s Tom Skinner). The news is accompanied by IzangoMa’s latest single release, ‘Ngo Ma’, which is now available to stream on all platforms from here.
Although IzangoMa’s debut may only be reaching us in 2023, the avant-garde collective’s roots stretch back to the meeting of core members Sibusile Xaba (vox/keys) and Ashley Kgabo (synths/snare drum/drum machine) in 2016. It was a galvanising connection which allowed Xaba to begin cultivating a different side to his virtuosic talent, one at cardinal opposites with the familiar folk sound the largesse knew him for.
IzangoMa are Cosmic sgubhu with the alchemic powers of Sun Ra mixed with township styles ranging from pantsula to bubblegum. The deep-running, perpetual message of their music is wrapped up and delivered in layers of spiritual chants, healing harmonies, and all manner of electro-analogue sonics transmitted in a big band-style. ‘Ngo Ma’ – which loosely translates from Zulu to English as ‘by my mother’ – explores themes of Creation as seen through the all-knowing feminine energy that transcends time and space, standing assured in its position as the cornerstone of their foundation. This is rhythm music; it spills into crevices ever-evolving, and revolts against a revolution yet to be finalised.
The ensemble is a link-up of Mozambican and South African musicians – says Sibusile; “I had this idea of working with my students from Mozambique. When I first met them [during exchange workshops], they were young men. We’d return every year to find these great human beings growing into these phenomenal musicians. We felt like it would be nice to incorporate them into this thing that we were doing.” The future-forward ‘Ngo Ma’ is a collective effort through and through – while the duo of Xaba and Kgabo forms the backbone, it’s the kaleidoscopic collective which feeds into the cycle that expands each time, adding something new on each iteration.
It’s never effort; it’s always joy,” says Ashley, reflecting on the fluid nature of how ideas find them while they’re jamming, to which Sibusile adds: “Even this idea of this music being a voice of remembering the feminine energy — that wasn’t there. It developed as the music was leading us. And funny enough, every song is talking about mothers. This wasn’t something that we planned.”
‘Ngo Ma’’s title track is a cry to The Spiritual Mother about the discordant lives that many people lead. It is an aide-mémoire to pay homage to our parentages; remembering that they are living ancestors, the first and direct link to The Creator. Here, the elders are given a voice by a resonating horn section, while the tempo is kept afloat by a lively, polyrhythmic hop between the Roland TR-8, the MOOG Minitaur analogue bass synthesiser and percussion.
It follows previous single releases‘City Lights’ – a cathartic call to tend to our roots in the face of the loneliness of modern life – and ‘Tribute To Johnny Dyani’, which hails the legendary Blue Notes bassist & Don Cherry-collaborator for his musicality but also for his efforts to promote emancipation as a member of a mixed race band under apartheid.
Sibusile Xaba – Vocals & Keys
Ashley Kgabo – Synths, Snare drum & Drum machine
Khanyisile Mtshobile – Vocals
Neo Erasmus – Vocals
Fakazile Nkosi – Vocals
Malusi Masia – Alto & Tenor saxophone
Jack Mcwabe – Trumpet
Mthokozisi Mazibuko – Congas
Yao Agbodohu – Djembe
Soares Bruno – Maraca shaker
Omar Machava – Cow Bell
Virgilio Faruk – Guitars
Tracklist (Double 12” LP/ Digital):
A1. Agenda Remember
A2. Birds (Of A Feather)
A3. City Lights
B1. Le Nna Mfana
B2. Mgung u Ndlovu
C1. Ngo Ma
C2. Out Of The World
D1. Q & A
D2. Tribute to Johnny Dyani
D3. Wathint’ Imbokodo