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. The song TRIBUTE TO BAFO that features on this new record is an homage to Madala “Bafo” Kunene.
Maskandi, malombo, the desert blues and jazz all figure in Sibusile Xaba’s expansive vocabulary, albeit through a magnetic individual filter.
After the acclaimed release of ‘Opened Letter to Adoniah’ in 2017, Sibusile’s second album NGIWU SHWABADA was recorded in one continuous take at Studio Pigalle in Paris, France, in May 2019. It features his long-time musical companion Naftali on additional vocals.
Sibusile explains the philosophy behind this second album NGIWU SHWABADA ( I am of SHWABADA – a spiritual lineage) : ‘The record is a dedication to my ancestors for all the love, blessings and guidance they continue to share.These songs are conversations I have had with them, transmitted into songs to be shared with mankind. The elements of the record are waters & the great feminine spirit.’
To close the album, London saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings joins Sibusile for a purely improvised 18 minute musical trip recorded that same day.
‘Phefumula is a journey of still minds, with a focus on the importance and simplicity of breathing. After a practical breathing session Shabaka & I were granted time to explore worlds and receive messages to be shared – we were gracefully granted to be vessels who receive.’
NMR (foto: cover Manyaku Mashilo, press Sibusile Xaba)