New Album Amaxesha Confirms South Africa’s Bongeziwe Mabandla As Uniquely Gifted Artist
Johannesburg, Friday, 5 May 2023 – Multi award-winning and critically acclaimed South African musician Bongeziwe Mabandla releases his fourth album amaXesha today, confirming his place as a key artist in the Black Alternative scene which is finding an audience at home in South Africa and right across the world. LISTEN HERE
The 14-track album is once again produced within the intimate creative collaboration that Mabandla has forged with composer, instrumentalist and producer Tiago Correia-Paulo. In creating the music for amaXesha (“The Times”), Mabandla and Correia-Paulo made a conscious move away from the central creative pulse of the artist’s previous three records, which was located in the simplicity of Mabandla’s vocals and his acoustic guitar, with scant need for amplification. Throughout amaXesha, the music remains intrinsically rooted in the traditional Xhosa folk music that Mabandla heard growing up in Tsolo in the Eastern Cape but is now imprinted with multiple flavours – among them soul, R&B, jazz, pop and a significant amount of electronica.
Already singles “ndikhale”, “noba bangathini”, “ukuthanda wena” have given a powerful indication of amaXesha’s sonic landscape – and Mabandla’s subject matter this time around: the relationships we have with our lovers, our family, our friends and, ultimately, with ourselves.
Among those who worked on amaXesha is Grammy-nominated mix engineer Stephen Sedgwick (Gorillaz, Blur, Fatoumata Diawara, Lana Del Ray, Benjamin Clementine). “Bongeziwe has such a beautiful voice, full of character and emotion, and I love the way it is complemented on the album by the atmospheric textures and organic percussive sounds of the production,”
On April 21, Mabandla appeared on the Colors stage, debuting a performance of “sisahleleleni (i)” that the iconic platform described as “euphoric” and “mesmerizing”.
Mabandla is a multiple award-winning artist who has performed on an array of national and international stages, become a sought-after creative collaborator and expanded his talents into film and visual art. He first came to the attention of music fans with his 2012 debut, Umlilo and went on to release Mangaliso (2017) and iimini (2020), both of which won South African Music Awards for Best Alternative Album. This May, Mabandla’s expansive creative talents will take another leap with the release of Augure, the first feature film directed by Belgian-based musician and filmmaker, Baloji. Alongside acting, he performs two original songs in the film which is in the Un Certain Regard selection at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
With the release of amaXesha, the enigmatic spirit of African soul, as Mabandla is known, says he is excited about continuing – and expanding to new listeners across the world – the intimate journey that he has built through his previous trio of albums. “I’m seeking those true feelings – those human moments that allow for a deep and lasting connection with the listener,” he concludes.
Alongside its digital release, amaXesha will be released on CD and vinyl. These will be distributed globally through Integral and will also be available at Mabandla’s upcoming shows, which include a South African tour and European summer dates. He will also play two dates at London’s 100 Club in June, one of which is already sold out, with the other close behind it.