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24. August 2017

South Africa's Avantgarde Roots Musicians Sibusile Xaba & Thabang Tabane at Prachtwerk in Berlin

An explosive collaboration of two trailblazers from South Africa’s avant-garde, Sibusile Xaba and Thabang Tabane sit firmly at the helm of a new wave of cutting edge South African roots music.

Their collaboration coalesces both geographic and spiritual influences, ranging from Maskandi (a music style dominant in Xaba’s native KwaZulu-Natal), the improvisational culture of South Africa's jazz avant garde and the malombo music Thabang’s father – the legendary Dr Philip Tabane – originated in the early 1960s. Collectively, they remold these influences, situating them within rhythms that span the African continent.

On stage, the pair’s synergy sees Tabane appearing as the fire that heats up Xaba's serene waters.

Sibusile Xaba
Charismatic guitar savant Sibusile Xaba reframes maskandi and the avant garde into his own humanist manifesto. With a vocal style that is part dreamscaping and part ancestral invocation, Xaba divines as opposed to plainly singing. Combined with a guitar style that is rooted in expressive picking, Xaba's music shatters the confines of genre, taking only the fundamentals from mentors such as Madala Kunene and Dr Philip Tabane and imbuing these with a mythology and improvisational intensity all of his own.

His debut LP, Open Letter to Adoniah, was released internationally on 4 August 2017 and is an album reverent of life and its connectedness to a higher source. The music emanates from dreams revealed to the guitarist over consecutive days and was recorded in the Magaliesberg Mountains, just outside of Johannesburg in Winter 2016.

Part acoustic guitar visionary, part urban mythologist, Sibusile Xaba’s improvisational style hints at maskandi, while also shrinking the middle passage to connect jazz to its precolonial antecedents.

"This music is extraordinary" – Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio)

Website –
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Soundcloud -…/sets/open-letter-to-adoniah/s-OZYRl
Bandcamp -
Youtube -

Thabang Tabane
Son of the legendary Dr Philip Nchipi Tabane and heir to the malombo sound that he originated and pioneered in early 1960s, Thabang has been touring the world playing with his father’s band and other South African luminaries (such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Madala Kunene and Mabi Thobejane) since he was 8 years old.

Emerging into his own with his debut solo album, Matjale (to be released on 3 November 2017), this energetic percussionist carves a driving, joyous and worldly version of the malombo genre that takes in his continental travels. The album brims with ambition and an appetite for life. Employing brisk tempos, nimble basslines and intersecting polyrhythms, Thabang crafts songs cognisant of the hardships of life, but chooses to deliver them with an irrepressible optimism.

Expanding parameters of what is essentially an artform patented by his father, Thabang and his cohorts seem unburdened by pedigree, infusing the sound with a modern sensibility. His reverence for the vibrational resonance and drive of the bass guitar, not to mention his explosive bursts of hand drumming, gives the album an undeniable, cathartic exuberance.

"I'm such a big Tabane fan and this is just fantastic" – Jonathan Rudnick (Worldwide FM)




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