Nyati Mayi & Astral Synth Transmitters / Lulanga Tales / Les Disques Bongo Joe – By Cal Gibson

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

Summer heat. Melting roads. Windless. Cloudless. Cycling slowly around the parched city streets Lulanga Tales provides the perfect soundtrack: disembodied globally-fractured grooves, unmoored from space and time, African echoes respun into tales of the future – sonic adventurers employing a wonderfully idiosyncratic sound palette.

There’s nothing else out there sounding quite like this: two Brussels-based producers coming together to formulate something quite unique – a quiet storm of yearning vocal runs, plucked instrumentation, shimmering percussion. Think Peter Gabriel’s Real World vibes given a leftfield revamp – the music of distant ancestors rewired for a modern civilization on the edge.

The world is burning but somehow keeps on turning – opening cut Elderflower slowly unfurls, a soothing beauty rising from the patterns – heartfelt vocal cries hazing in and out of the sparse backdrops: picking up echoes of classic Massive Attack and Youssou N’Dour – the woes of humanity sweetened for a few brief moments by the musical balm.

Nothing moves fast here: time shudders to a halt as memories kick into gear.  This is the love you lost many years ago, this is the one you watched fade away, this is the heartbreaking kick in the guts that life can be. Cry Woman is a slow crawl through treacherous terrain – the mothers’ pain played out in chapter and verse, beauty and truth coalescing. Nyati Mayi‘s vocal performance is something to treasure – Congolese in origin, worldwide in effect – nestling in amongst the soundbed beautifully. Perfectly poised and deep as you like.

The title cut has swooping synths underpinning the lyrical gymnastics: Mayi’s voice close to the edge, shuffling out to the ledge, ready to fly or die trying. The mood is sombre, hushed: electronics employed with a keen ear for dynamics, a pot-pourri of finely calibrated movements and soul. Hours and hours of creative endeavour boiled down to a fine essence – the studio reconfigured as a crucible of light and wonderment.

This is a triumphant piece of sound design / art, a breathtaking marriage of minds that works brilliantly. Nyati Mayi and soFA elsewhere have come up with an album of exploration and rejuvenation – if you’re a fan of softly softly sonics and fractured soul music then you’ll be wanting to catch this one for sure.

Nyati Mayi & Astral Synth Transmitters` Lulanga Tales will be released on September 16th, care of Les Disques Bongo Joe. 

You can hear some fine soulful musical selections from Cal Gibson, on the first Tuesday of every month, between 4 – 6PM UK time, on his Holy Rollers Radio Show, for Universal Rhythms. If you can’t catch it live, you`ll can find it archived here.

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