The Future of the World
Views on coming days of the human race
What does Turkish psychedelic rock music from the 70’s have to do with South African musician Spoek Mathambo? Both the Turk-Psych and the Joburg innovator are key players in the forthcoming Future of the World, according to Profet’s Chief Ideologue Filip Lindström.
What many of Profet’s Swedish speaking readers may know at this point, which our newly joined English speaking crowd may not, is that Turkish psychedelic rock is one of my all-time favorite musical genres. What captures me about it is the meeting between western and Middle-Eastern sounds, the Turkish rhythms and melancholic melodies infused with hazy Rock ’n’ Roll. This of course comes from Turkey’s long history of wanting to belong to European culture while still not letting go of the traditional oriental heritage. An unmistakable influence from Arabic music has also made its mark in this cultural melting pot. Not only to be heard in dated psychedelia but also modern Turkish pop songs, the clash of East and West is now essential to Turkey’s musical landscape. Artists like Baris Manço, Cem Karaca and Selda Bagcan has popularized the signature blend of a country between two continents at home as well as abroad.
The feeling I got when first hearing the odd match of Anatolian Rock is similar to the one I get when first listening to South African artist Spoek Mathambo. Prior to hearing of him, the only South African musical acts I knew of was Hugh Masakela and Die Antwoord. Thanks to Profet writer Ronni Arturo and his article about the AFROPUNK festival, where Mathambo is scheduled to perform this year, I happened upon the recently released album »Mzansi Beat Code«.
Now, some of you may very well wonder what a South African contemporary musician has to do with 70’s Turkish trip rock. A very sane wondering, considering the lack of obvious connection between the two parts. Why I felt similarly after experiencing Spoek Mathambo as I did after discovering the Anatolian legacy is simple. Mathambo has a way of combining his musical heritage with outer influences, as you can clearly hear on »Mzansi Beat Code«. The South African folk music style Maskandi flows with ease in and out of modern sounds of House, Hip Hop and Electronica, never being forced into the context but instead adding perspective. For example, the vocal hook from Mathambo’s »I Found You« (featuring Fantasma and Kajama) might as well have been sung over a generic, chart breaking, dime-a-dozen pop track. In that case, it would probably have reached worldwide, absurd fame before being forgotten 15 minutes later. But that’s not what will happen to »I Found You«. That song will attract authentic awe from a selected few with real knowledge and passion for music, because it is deeply interesting and exciting to listen to. The many layers of the track weave a complexity in the simplicity and every time I replay it something new appears before my ears. It sometimes sounds more electronic, sometimes more organic and earth-bound, redirecting its course far beyond my conscious vigilance. A song that surprises me by having me follow blindly through the subtle changes of the thought-out track, and in that way challenges me, is worthy curiosity, both yours and mine. The Maskandi beat and the up to date production make for a take on popular culture that you rarely see.
»I Found You« is not the only track from »Mzansi Beat Code« where both influences and genres can alter throughout the duration of one single song. Always present and mindful in his production, Mathambo possesses a great gift. He knows how to slowly evolve a Chicago House vibe, like the one on »Black Rose«, into a Trap groove with a flick of his finger. With the delicate precision of a brain surgeon he can splice genres and cultures together, shortening the distances between different parts of the world. The only consistency on »Mzansi Beat Code« is Mathambo’s presence, and the fact that there is no real consistency.
I do listen, and have listened, to an extreme amount of music in my days. Everyone who consumes that much music grows tired of the conventional after a while, and tries to seek new fixes. One of my methods to score has been looking outside my own culture, hence the finding of the Turkish musical treasure. Yet another method is listening to the experimental and escaping conformity. Spoek Mathambo represents both the unexplored sonic territory (by including Maskandi) and the irregular approach to modern day music.
Heard in both Turkish Psychedelia and Mathambo’s work is a multi-cultural aspect. Mixing heritages, influences and cultures is part of the present and definitely a part of the future. 30 years from now, I am sure that racism and prejudice will be reduced because of the ongoing linking of such things. Knowledge is key, and knowledge comes from recognizing one another’s differences and learning from it. Intertwining music from different corners of the world is crucial when trying to indoctrinate narrow minded humans who won’t see past their own front yard (and don’t want any strangers trespassing). My mind has been opened by hearing tunes from Turkey and South Africa, and my understanding of my fellow man has broadened.
The Future of the World is multi-cultural, the traditional cultures will remain intact but not as strictly isolated from others that they’ve been earlier in the history of man. The free flow of information and communication that we live with today facilitates the spreading of knowledge, thus establishing links between divided societies. Bridges can be built by letting culture and music fly with the wind, stretching distances previously impossible to cover.
I know the present seems bleak, when nationalist parties are on the rise worldwide. These politicians are xenophobic and feed on their own (and other’s) fear and ignorance of the unknown and foreign. Racism will be defaced if the barrier of miscomprehension can be torn down, starting with multi-cultural music like Turkish Psychedlia and Spoek Mathambo. Understanding is the way of the future, and The Future of the World is bright, that I promise.