Mushroom Hour Half Hour On Our Own Clock – By Cal Gibson

Super review by Cal Gibson, of The Secret Soul Society and Scruffy Soul Recordings.

This is an enthralling global get down: musicians from South Africa, Senegal and London, coming together with ‘unreasonable optimism’ to make art in the time of the pandemic. The end results being eleven collaborative musical pieces, literature, plus a planned film – this is a commune-ing as global resistance, a riposte to the fear and loathing unleashed by the pandemic / populist politicos / racist structures and mindsets.

From sessions in Joburg, Dakar and London, files flew across the oceans for tweaking and twocking from the heavy-hitters involved: sublime art brought into being from (deep breath): Alabaster de Plume, Asher Gamedze, Damola Owolade, Danalogue , Grandmaster CAP, Lex Blondin, Mpumelelo Mcata, Nosisi Ngakane, Siya Makuzeni, Tarang Cissoko, Tebogo Austebza Sedumedi, Theon Cross, Yahael Camara Onono and Zoe Molelekwa.

Over eight tracks, and three thematic interludes, the musicians stretch themselves across a selection of jazzual pastures. Dune Dance, penned by trombonist Siya Makuzeni, strolls serenely into view, atop a rolling b-line, before horns bustle in with some bump and hustle goodness, then dropping back into languid synth lines and shimmering keys. A low-slung late-night groove that hits the sweet spot.

Good Are Good slips into contemplative mode. A conversation begins, piano and sax and bass floating into and out of each other’s individual reveries before vocalist Nosisi Ngakane brings her wordless, but supremely soulful, meditation to the spiritual brew. Alice Coltrane lovers will be lapping this one up for sure. One for those into deep dives, and totally timeless. Awesome stuff.

Tarang Cissoko’s kora workout rounds things off beautifully. A tuba holding fort as the kora flies serenely over the top: bumping the beats for a freedom ride as Siya Makuzeni`s beautiful vocals slide on in. The instruments strip away, time stops, all is well. The flow of life mirrored perfectly by these skilled practitioners.

Be The Light finds Grandmaster CAP taking control of another lissom koraled composition — laying down incisive lyrics for those in need:

How you livin’ when the livin’ ain’t even Life? /How you livin’ when the children ain’t eatin’ right? /Speakin’ right, /Thinkin’ right,/Where the neophytes?

Makuzeni’s trombone curling upwards, onwards, bringing the tune to a triumphant conclusion.

Inescapably, it’s been a tough, tough eighteen months for humanity. What On Our Own Clock asserts is the drive to thrive and push on through – “Look to this day for it is life, the very life of life”*, as the old proverb goes. Amen to that and amen to this project. One for the end of year lists without a doubt. Forwards ever, backwards never.

On Our Own Clock is available to order directly from Mushroom Hour Half Hour.

*Cal`s quote is lifted from this beautiful piece by 4th Century Indian poet and playwright, Kalidasa – Rob. 

“Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growt
The glory of action
The splendour of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream
of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.”

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