Music

Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness Get Funky on the Rocking "Ihawu" (premiere)

Photo: Jeanne Abrahams ( Courtesy of Press Junkie PR)

Combining psychedelic rock, funk, and sometimes even hip-hop, B.C.U.C.'s release of "Ihawu" comes ahead of new album Emakhosini, due out 20 April on Buda Musique.

You may think you know what you're in for from the opening chants of brand new track "Ihawu" by South African septet Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness. Strong vocal harmonies fill a space punctuated by steady percussion, stripped-down rhythm and melody to soothe the troubled soul.

Listen longer, though, and you'll hear the track build as B.C.U.C. goes deeper into indigenous spiritual traditions. The drums grow faster, the lyrics more insistent. A louder voice enters the mix, joined by woodwinds and syncopated beats to twist in the empty spaces left by the groundwork. As these elements spin together, they gradually grow ecstatic, anchored only by a late-entering bass before hitting one final frenzy at the end of the piece.

"Ihawu is a traditional shield used in battle," notes the band. "It is about asking your ancestors," the group notes that these ancestors represent a higher power "for strength to protect yourself, strength to face the challenges of life and push through them."

The spiritual aspect of "Ihawu" is almost palpable in the near-heartbeats running through the song and in the calls throughout, sent both skyward and earthward, speaking to a connection between realms.

Combining psychedelic rock, funk, and sometimes even hip-hop, B.C.U.C.'s release of "Ihawu" comes ahead of new album Emakhosini, due out 20 April on Buda Musique. Its aim is to illustrate realities of modern-day Africa, some harsh and some, like "Ihawu", more inspiring. The contemporary edge is clear here, in the clean contours of the music, but so is the way B.C.U.C. intends to honor metaphysical traditions and beliefs. Regardless of your own interpretation, listen after listen of "Ihawu" will have you discovering new sonic moments and markers every time, and B.C.U.C. will have you aching for some more soul-healing funk rock.

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