Free-spirited electro/Afro-jazz ensemble

photo: Blunt Moya


IzangoMa is a new 15-strong collective based in Pretoria, which brings together musicians from South Africa and Mozambique. Led by guitarist/vocalist Sibusile Xaba and producer Ashley Kgabo, they partner traditional African instrumentation with all manner of machines, from a Roland TR-8 to an ARP Odyssey.

Why Izangoma?

Xaba and Kgabo take their collective name from the word for a Zulu healer, and their music does indeed have a medicinal quality to it. Their debut album, ‘Ngo Ma’, blends aspects of jazz, electronica, “township jive” and the avant-garde – an effusive concoction that makes currently voguish Afrobeats look like bland, stodgy fare. The title track itself is a thing of wonder, juxtaposing fizzing synth lines with brass flourishes and gabbling half-spoken vocals (in both English and Zulu). IzangoMa make music which is genuinely unlike anything you’ve ever heard before.

Tell Us More…

‘Ngo Ma’ (meaning “from mother”) is a concept album exploring feminine energy – even if that wasn’t its creators’ original intention. “It developed as the music was leading us,” explains Kgabo. “And funnily enough, every song is talking about mothers. This wasn’t something that we planned.” Their recent single, ‘Out Of This World’, is an ode to Mother Earth herself, while another album highlight is a tribute to a different sort of parental figure. “Yes you photo man / Yes you video man / We love you / We really, really do,” sings Xaba on ‘Johnny Dyani’, a paean to the legendary SA bassist who formed the country’s first racially mixed jazz band, The Blue Notes. IzangoMa are nothing if not imbued with the great man’s boundary-breaking spirit.

‘Ngo Ma’ is out on Brownswood

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